Norwegian Air was named Europe’s best budget airline for the second year in a row at the prestigious Skytrax World Airline Awards on Tuesday. It ranked third in the global list, behind AirAsia and AirAsia X.
Norwegian beat airlines including EasyJet, Germanwings and NIKI in the Europe low-cost division, reported newspaper Dagens Næringsliv (DN). Boarding, seat comfort, food, entertainment and service were all factors in the judging.
Passengers themselves evaluated more than 200 airlines in the international competition. That’s reassuring for Norwegian, after a record number of customer complaints were lodged against the airline earlier this year. Hong Kong-based Cathay Pacific Airways was named the airline of the year.
“This award means an incredible amount to us and I am very proud and humbled to receive such big and important recognition two years in a row,” said Norwegian’s chief executive Bjørn Kjos.
He was at the Farnborough Airshow outside London where the award ceremony was held, networking with other airlines over his plans to make Norwegian Air one of the world’s major airline leasing companies. “From 2016 onwards we will replace many of our planes,” Kjos said. “They are very attractive planes, and I’m meeting many at Farnborough who are interested in renting them. We’re negotiating with customers from all over the world.”
Over the past seven years, Norwegian Air has accumulated a fleet worth NOK 157 billion (USD 25.3 billion). Norwegian Air planned to operate most of its planes for six to eight years before leasing them out, but said several of its 222 new Boeing and Airbus planes ordered in 2012 may go straight to the rental market.