Any newspaper or travelling magazine looking to fill a few pages recently has struggled to look past Ethad Airline's new suits offering, otherwise known as the luxury residence on board their A380's and 787's. I do agree the offering looks good, and can say with some certainty I'll never get to experience it first hand, with my mode of transport tending to be towards the back end of the plane.
Obviously keen to attract the premium end of the market to fill up space at the front, Etihad are keen on using the 'Worlds Leading Airline' tag, which they've won via the World Travel Awards for five years consecutively.
There's just one minor problem though. Another body widely known for granting airline awards, based on reviews by paid passengers of all travel classes, doesn't rate Etihad particularly highly. Based on the latest list of Skytrax rankings system, there are six Five Star Airlines, and unfortunately for Etihad, they're not one of them.
The list of five star airlines for anyone that's interested includes ANA, Asiana, Cathay Pacific, Hainan Airlines, Malaysia Airlines, Qatar Airlines and Singapore Airlines. Interesting that two airlines on the list have been involved in hull loss incidents over the last couple of years, but moving on.
Checking the latest ranking for Ethihad, it seems Skytrax have rated them a four star airline. Reading through some of the recent traveller reviews on the Skytrax website, its not difficult to see why.
Anyhow, would would passengers know? Convinced the travelling public and Skytrax have got it all wrong and Etihad is, after all, the best airline ever, they've simply decided to withdraw from the Skytrax rating system. Brilliant, that'll teach 'em. Skytrax are now naturally on the offensive, and are kind enough to suggest an airline cannot simply hide from customer comments, whether they be good or bad.
My tip is the Gulf region is over-serviced with over-ambitious airlines. As much as the region, plus South Asia and Africa are growing, there simply isn't a market for three or four big gulf carriers operating hubs within the region, when any route with sufficient point-to-point traffic will invariably result in a direct service. Emirates now seem firmly on track to become the world's largest airline operating out of their Dubai base, and these may be the early stages of what will be a winner takes all outcome among the remaining Gulf carriers, Qatar and Etihad included. Unless of course, they all have very deep pockets.