Etihad Airways just concluded a special announcement in Abu Dhabi, where they announced that they have achieved a 5-star rating with Skytrax. Etihad streamed the event, which took pace in the Etihad Airways Innovation Center, live on YouTube. During the event, Edward Plaisted, Chairman of Skytrax, handed the 5-star certification to Peter Baumgartner, CCO of Etihad.
But there is an absolutely fascinating story in here. You see, Etihad actually left Skytrax 2 years ago, when they had a 4-star rating. At the time, they published a short statement:
Etihad Airways, the national airline of the United Arab Emirates, has sent a letter to Skytrax formally announcing its decision to withdraw from Skytrax, including the Skytrax World Airline Awards and the Skytrax Audit.
At the time, Edward Plaisted, Chairman of Skytrax, commented on Etihad’s move (emphasis mine):
An airline cannot be withdrawn from the World Airline Awards, since these results are directly decided by customers. Skytrax do not exercise control over which airlines are nominated in the Survey ratings, and to subsequently try and conceal the results of a public vote would be unacceptable. We assume there is some underlying purpose or agenda behind the statement made by Etihad Airways to which we are not privy.
Hm…is this the agenda? It’s worth noting that the star rating is not based on customer review, but rather rated by Skytrax itself. Both parties repeatedly talked about how Etihad went through an audit process to get the 5-star rating during the live streamed event. It’s everyone’s speculation at this point, but I think Etihad’s move 2 years ago has something to do with the announcement today. Regardless, Etihad is now the first 5-star airline in the UAE (though not the Middle East, since Qatar is already a Skytrax 5-star airline).
The event concluded with a congratulatory message from Nicole Kidman, Etihad’s brand ambassador.
Here are all the Skytrax 5-star airlines:
- ANA All Nippon Airways
- Asiana Airlines
- Cathay Pacific
- EVA Air
- Etihad Airways
- Garuda Indonesia
- Hainan Airlines
- Qatar Airways
- Singapore Airlines
What do you think of Etihad gaining the 5-star rating?