(CNN) — It's a country characterized by sandy beaches, jaw-dropping glaciers and sweeping mountain ranges — and an industry-leading airline.

Air New Zealand is Airline of the Year for 2020, according to AirlineRatings.com, the Australia-based aviation safety and product rating agency.

AirlineRatings.com says the Kiwi carrier's record-breaking performance and inflight innovations — not to mention its safety record and staff motivation -- earned it the win.

Taking back the number one slot from last year's winner Singapore Airlines, this is Air New Zealand's sixth time winning the travel award.

The Airline Excellence Awards cover the best of the best in the aviation world, recognizing the swankiest airline lounges, finest first class cabins and most exciting in-flight entertainment.

"In our analysis Air New Zealand came out number one in most of our audit criteria, which is an outstanding performance when it is up against carriers with more resources and scale," says Geoffrey Thomas, editor-in-chief of AirlineRatings.com.

This past year has seen airlines striving towards ultra long-haul flights and — conversely — assessing aviation's carbon footprint.

Thomas tells CNN Travel it was Air New Zealand's fleet age that helped cement the airline's eco-conscious status.

 

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