Its economy lie-flat seating concept is making waves, and now Air New Zealand is officially the airline of the year, at least according to Australia-based aviation safety and product rating agency AirlineRatings.com. AirlineRatings.com cites AirNZ’s intriguing SkyNest economy beds – set to launch in 2024 – as one of the key factors determining its number one spot. “The airline is always innovating and not content to take off-the-shelf products and seats but go one better,” Geoffrey Thomas, AirlineRatings.com’s editor-in-chief, told CNN Travel, crediting Air New Zealand’s dedicated design studio and its output. “It’s this focus on the economy travelers’ wellbeing and comfort that impressed the judges.” AirlineRatings.com also praised Air New Zealand’s operational safety, environmental leadership and staff motivation. Ranking airlines After a couple of years of reduced air travel in the wake of the pandemic, travelers returned to the air in 2022 to significant airline chaos – canceled flights, lost luggage and overstretched staff. The result, said Thomas, was an “interesting” year all in all, as “most airlines suffered declines in passenger approvals as the industry struggled to get into the air.” The jury’s still out on whether this year will see a more stable air travel landscape. And interestingly, while Air New Zealand came out on top for 2023, Thomas said the results were close among the top five. Qatar Airways, which topped last year’s AirlineRatings.com’s ranking, came in at number two this year, also winning the Best Business Class, Best Catering and Excellence in Long Haul Travel - Middle East awards. Abu Dhabi’s Etihad Airways is number 3 on AirlineRatings.com’s 2023 list. Korean Air, which also won the Excellence in Long Haul Travel - North Asia award was at number four. Singapore Airlines, named top in the Best First Class award and the Excellence in Long Haul Travel - Southeast Asia award, took fifth place overall. To produce its rankings, AirlineRatings.com examines major safety and government audits, as well as looking at airline fleet age, passenger reviews, profitability, investment rating, product offerings and staff relations. Since the awards launched in 2014, Thomas said scoring and categories have morphed “to reflect the ever changing dynamics of the industry and customer expectations.” Air New Zealand is also making headlines this week for other reasons. From now until July 2, 2023, New Zealand’s Civil Aviation Authority is asking its national airline to weigh passengers departing on international flights from Auckland International Airport. AirlineRatings.com’s top 25 airlines for 2022 1. Air New Zealand2. Qatar Airways3. Etihad Airways4. Korean Air5. Singapore Airlines6. Qantas7. Virgin Australia/Virgin Atlantic8. EVA Air9. Cathay Pacific Airways10. Emirates11. Lufthansa / Swiss12. SAS13. TAP Portugal14. All Nippon Airways15. Delta Air Lines16. Air Canada17. British Airways18. Jet Blue19. JAL20. Vietnam Airlines21. Turkish Airlines22. Hawaiian23. KLM24. Alaska Airlines25. United Airlines.