North Korea's Air Koryo wins world's worst airline for fourth year running

It’s the airline that keeps passengers on their toes with severe lectures if they manage to crumple a newspaper bearing the image of Kim Jong Un, the North Korean leader.

Air Koryo named the world's worst airline for fourth year in a row

Air Koryo named the world's worst airline for fourth year in a row Image by (stephan) / CC BY 2.0

But at a time when travellers demand pampering instead of reprimands, Air Koryo has just gained the unenviable distinction - for the fourth year running - of being named the world’s worst carrier.

The Daily Express reports that the North Korean airline received only one star in its ranking by the UK-based SkyTrax consultancy agency. Over 180 airlines participate in the five-star system which hands out their ‘Oscars’ as tributes to global standards among the airline industry.

And while Air Koryo is at the bottom of the pile again, some of its passengers – and travel experts – say it’s an easy target to be shot down in the star-ratings, because the SkyTrax system concentrates more on service in the cabin than safety.

One travel agent who specialises in North Korea, Simon Cockerell, says it is clearly not the worst airline in the world. “It’s a bit of a giggle really,” he stressed.

Mr Cockerill believed the low ranking came because cabin crew don’t speak other languages while meals aren’t anything to write home about and there are no in-flight magazines. On top of that the flights often have condensation problems, particularly in older planes.

Arguably the most irksome part of the journey is the in-flight entertainment which is confined to local bands singing patriotic ditties to the leader.

Air Koryo apologists also point to the fact that the airline has improved with four of the planes used for international journeys bought in 2008.

They claim that it can’t be easy to be the flag-carrier for a country shunned by most of the western world because of its dictatorship.

Air Koryo is more quirky than awful and only flies international flights to Shanghai, Beijing, Shenyang in China and Vladivostok in Russia.

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