North Korean airline ranked world’s worst airline for fourth year running

It was awarded just one star yet again, but some experts say it's been judged harshly

Kate Nelson
Friday 05 August 2016 13:43

A North Korean airline whose flight attendants are under strict orders to protect the image of the country's autocratic leader has been rated the worst in the world yet again – and it’s easy to see why.

If a passenger dares to take a photo on board or accidentally crumples a newspaper adorned with the face of Kim Jong Un, they can expect a lecture or worse from an Air Koryo flight attendant.

While the airline languishes at the bottom of the Skytrax 2016 World Airline Awards​ with just one star, Emirates sits at the top with its five-star rating.

Qatar Airways, Singapore Airlines and Cathay Pacific follow Emirates in the awards, which are widely acknowledged as the industry benchmark.

But some claim Air Koryo has been judged too harshly.

It is fairly reliable, with a new terminal at Pyongyang's Sunan International Airport, and has new fleet of aircraft - according to Simon Cockerell, of the Koryo Group, a Beijing-based travel agency that specializes in North Korea. The agency has no affiliation to Air Koryo, but Mr Cockerell often uses the airline.

"It's a bit of a giggle, actually. They are clearly not the world's worst airline," he told Associated Press.

It was founded in 1955 and has since then drastically tried to improve its image.

Pilot Patrick Smith added: "I'm not sure that I've ever seen or heard any references to Air Koryo being unsafe, only that its service is terrible.

"Some of the world's best and safest airlines are carriers the average American has never heard of."

The airline falls down on details customers have come to expect – there is no in-flight magazine and the attendants do not speak foreign languages well.

Explaining what Emirates do well at the opposite end of the scale, airline president Sir Tim Clark, said: "We constantly invest in our product and services, both on the ground and in the air. We listen carefully our customers, and then relentlessly challenge ourselves to deliver and exceed expectations."

Top 10 of the Skytrax 2016 World Airline Awards​

1 Emirates

2 Qatar Airways

3 Singapore Airlines

4 Cathay Pacific

5 ANA All Nippon Airways

6 Etihad Airways

7 Turkish Airlines

8 EVA Air

9 Qantas Airways

10 Lufthansa

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