Dubai: For many locals and expatriates in the UAE, frequent travel is a part of life. They spend a great deal of time in the stratosphere, jetting off to another country three times a year, on average, according to a study. This is why choosing the best airline to travel with is very important for a lot of people., which regularly reviews carriers around the world, has recently released its list of top 10 airlines for 2017, to let flyers know which ones excel in offering safety, comfort and service in the sky, and are able to maximise their profits at the same time.

According to the ratings agency, the airline that shows "exceptional performance" is Air New Zealand

Winning the "airline of the year" award for the fourth time in a row, the Kiwi airline bested other carriers for its exemplary financial performance, in-flight innovations, operational safety, environmental leadership and motivation of its staff.

“In our objective analysis, Air New Zealand came out number one in virtually all of our audit criteria, which is an exceptional performance,” said editor-in-chief Geoffrey Thomas.

Also worthy of high praises are other airlines that comprise the rest of the top ten list for 2017: Qantas, Singapore Airlines, Cathay Pacific, Virgin Atlantic/Virgin Australia, British Airways, Etihad Airways, All Nippon Airways, Eva Air and Lufthansa.

AirlineRatings picked the top ten airlines using four major international industry and government audits and nine key criteria, including fleet age, passenger review ratings, profitability, investment rating and key product offerings.

Emirates, included in last year’s edition, is missing in the top ten, but it did get the best in-flight entertainment award.

“The [emergency landing] of the 777 was a serious blow to the airline’s safety record and thus, it has slipped out of the top ten,” Geoffrey Thomas, editor-in-chief,, told Gulf News.

Qantas scooped three awards for offering the best domestic airline service, catering and lounges.

The UAE’s Etihad Airways earned the award for having the “best first class”, while Virgin Australia won best business class.”

The “best cabin crew” award went to The Virgin Group – Virgin Australia, Virgin Atlantic and Virgin America.

For excellence in long haul travel, the following airlines did it best: Delta Air Lines (Americas), Virgin Atlantic (Europe), Etihad (Middle East/Africa) and Singapore Airlines (Asia/Pacific).

In terms of value and safety in the low-cost airline sector, the following stood out: Virgin America (Americas), Norwegian (Europe), (Africa/Middle East) and Scoot (Asia/Pacific)