‘To travel hopefully is a better thing than to arrive’ according to Robert Louis Stevenson but in our modern world of readily available and crowded international air travel he might have emphasised that it is better to travel safely and comfortably than to arrive. A huge number of airlines constantly criss cross the European continent and while they all claim that they offer safety and value which airlines compose the top ten Favourite European Airlines in 2017 according to the World Airline Awards which are voted on by the most important in this industry; the fare paying customers.
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The following are the Top 10 Best Favourite European Airlines in 2017
10. Aegean Airlines
Aegean Airlines is a Greek airline that serves destinations in Greece and across Europe. It is the biggest airline based in Greece as measured by total number of passengers carried, by number of routes, and by its fleet size. Its main hubs are Athens International Airport, Larnaca International Airport (Cyprus) and Thessalonika International Airport.
Aegean Airlines has been nominated as Europe’s leading regional carrier (Skytrax Best Regional Airline in Europe) each year from 2009 to 2016 and also won the 2013 Most Reliable Regional Airline in Europe in the On time Performance Service Awards.
Norwegian Air Shuttle ASA, which trades as Norwegian, is the third most successful low cost airline operating in Europe as measured by passenger numbers. It provides regular, affordable domestic flights within Scandinavia and Finland and to major European cities such as London and Paris.The airline also offers services to holiday destinations around the Mediterranean and to the Canary Islands.
Norwegian carried over 30 million passengers last year and it was the ratings awarded by these passengers that have lifted the airline into Europe’s top 10. Norwegian started a long haul operation in 2013 and it now serves Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport, New York’s JFK and Fort Lauderdale Hollywood International Airport.
Finnair is the flag carrier and largest airline of Finland. Its majority shareholder is the government of the country. Its main hub is the Helsinki Vantaa Airport and the company’s headquarters are based there also. The airline carried over ten million passengers in 2016 servicing over 60 European, 4 North American and 13 Asian routes.
Finnair has been in continuous operation since 1st November 1923 when it was known as Aero O/Y making it the fifth oldest airline in the world. Since 1963 the company has operated successfully with no fatal or hull loss accidents meaning that Finnair can always be found listed amongst the safest airlines in the world.
7. British Airways
British Airways was established in 1974 when British Overseas Airways Corporation and British European Airways were merged along with two smaller regional carriers, Cambrian Airways and Northeast Airlines. The new corporation was fully state owned until it was privatised in February 1987 along with many other nationalised industries as part of Margaret Thatcher’s Conservative government’s social engineering policies of the 1980’s.
The company further expanded by purchasing British Caledonian in 1987, Dan Air in 1992 and British Midland International in 2012. British Airways merged with Iberia in 2011 becoming the International Airlines Group which has since acquired the Irish airline, Aer Lingus. This group is now the third largest airline group in the world and the second largest in Europe in terms of annual revenue.
KLM Royal Dutch Airlines was established in 1919 and is the oldest airline in the world which is still operating using its original name. It is the flag carrier for the Netherlands and has its headquarters in Amstelveen near the airline’s main hub of Amsterdam Airport Schiphol. According to the company’s website, it operates cargo and passenger schedules to over 130 destinations.
Despite a very good safety record overall, KLM was involved in the airline accident with the highest number of passenger fatalities when 583 people died in the Tenerife Disaster on 27 March 1977. In dense fog, the crew of a KLM Boeing 747 attempted to take off erroneously thinking that they had received clearance and collided with a taxiing Pan Am 747. After this accident, there was an increased emphasis put on standardising the phrases used by pilots and air traffic controllers.
Austrian Airlines AG, often known as Austrian, was founded in 1957 through the merger of Air Austria and Austrian Airways and is the national carrier of Austria. Having suffered heavy losses throughout the 2000’s and its then owner, the Austrian Government, sold the airline to the Lufthansa Group in 2009.
Austrian is based at the Vienna International Airport and it services 6 national and 120 international destinations. The company’s slogan is ‘The charming way to fly’ and the staff and management efforts to live up to this aspiration have lifted Austrian to fifth place in the list of Europe’s top airlines based on passenger feedback.
4. Swiss International Air Lines
Swiss International Air Lines AG, commercially shortened as Swiss, was founded in 2001 after the collapse through bankruptcy of Swissair, Swizerland’s former national carrier. It is a subsidiary of the Lufthansa Group which has its headquarters at the Euro Airport Basel Mulhouse Freiburg. Its main hub is Zurich Airport and has a ‘focus city’ centre at Geneva Airport. Swiss has a fleet size of 68 aircraft and flies to 106 destinations in 48 countries.
The ‘Swiss’ brand is highly rated by travellers coming first in the Conde Nast Traveller survey in 2008.
3. Air France
Air France was founded as the national carrier of France in October 1933 from the merger of five smaller airlines. Its main hubs are Charles de Gaulle and Orly Airports in Paris with ‘focus cities’ Nice, Marseille, Lyon, Toulouse and Bordeaux. It currently has a fleet of 233 aircraft with another 43 ordered and operates to 204 destinations worldwide. The airline carried over 46 million passengers in 2016. In 2003 Air France merged with KLM and lost its status as France’s primary national flag carrier.
Since the 1990s Air France has had a chequered history of financial difficulties and poor industrial relations and despite its large size and passenger numbers has consistently struggled to turn a profit.
Lufthansa is the largest German airline and, when combined with its subsidiaries, is the second largest in Europe based on passenger numbers in 2016 (the largest is the Irish based low fare carrier Ryanair) and the largest as measured by fleet size. The central Lufthansa operation operates over 270 aircraft providing services to 18 domestic German and 197 international destinations.
While the corporate headquarters are in Cologne, Lufthansa’s primary hub is at Frankfurt Airport. It was a state owned enterprise until 1994 when it was privatised in order to provide money making opportunities for the rich of Germany and their international counterparts.
The Lufthansa name comes from ‘Luft’, the German word for ‘Air’, and ‘Hansa’, Latin for ‘Guild’.
1. Turkish Airlines
Established in 1933, Turkish Airlines is the national flag carrier of Turkey. Based on attractive pricing, a high quality fleet, highly trained crew and a wide range of destinations, it has grown to be the fourth largest carrier in the world when measured by number of destinations while, at the same time, consistently coming out on top of passenger ratings surveys thus making it Europe’s Number One Airline.
Turkish Airlines serves more destinations non stop from a single airport, Istanbul, than any other airline in Europe. This makes it a very attractive choice for long haul flyers. 115 countries are served, the most of any airline.
Although these airlines are ranked in ascending order with Turkish Airlines a deserving winner, the truth is that they all offer an excellent service to business and leisure travellers and, according to customer reviews, one can feel confident when making a purchase fromany one of the above.