Etihad Withdraws From Skytrax, Airline Ratings Firm Says Carrier Can’t Opt-out From Awards

The airline said it made the decision after reviewing the criteria and measurement of the Skytrax Airline Rating System.

Abu Dhabi carrier Etihad Airways announced that it has broken ties with UK-based travel advisory firm Skytrax.

In a sparsely worded statement, Etihad said it had sent a letter formally announcing its decision to withdraw from Skytrax, including the Skytrax World Airline Awards and the Skytrax Audit.

“The decision was made after Etihad Airways carried out a review of the criteria and measurement of the Skytrax Airline Rating System,” it said.

“The measurement of customer satisfaction and feedback is important to Etihad Airways. The airline subscribes to monthly industry research and undertakes comprehensive monthly surveys to monitor customer satisfaction, using the insights to continually improve its products and services,” the airline added.

Skytrax responded stating that it “questioned Etihad’s statement as potentially misleading and omitting salient facts that apply to an airline’s star rating.”

“For a star rating audit review where Skytrax works in conjunction with the airline, product consistency, planned changes and aircraft fleet information are transparent and key elements of the assessment criteria. When an airline is either unable or does not wish to provide information that may potentially influence the star rating, Skytrax has no option but to curtail work on such project,” it said.

However, the UK firm added that an airline cannot demand to be withdrawn from the annual World Airline Awards, since the results are directly decided by customers.

“Skytrax does 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,” it stated.

Focussed on improving the customer service standards in the air transport industry, Skytrax, established in 1989, advises airlines, airports, airline alliances and related air transport product and service suppliers.

It also holds annual awards, based on customer surveys, to rank the world’s best airlines and the best airports. Dubai’s Emirates topped the airline rankings in 2013, followed by Qatar Airways, with Etihad coming in the seventh position. The Abu Dhabi carrier also won top awards for the world’s best first class, the world’s best first class onboard catering and the world’s best first class seats last year.