Etihad Airways, the national airline of the United Arab Emirates, has enjoyed stunning success at the World Travel Awards, taking the top honour for the third year in a row.

The airline was given the accolade at the annual World Travel Awards held in Doha, Qatar. The judges also presented Etihad Airways with awards for the World’s Leading First Class and World’s Leading Airline to the Middle East.

The airline launched seven new international routes in 2011; it also made steps towards gaining 33 million new passengers across Europe by entering a purchasing bid in Air Berlin.

James Hogan, Etihad Airways’ President and Chief Executive Officer, said: “We are delighted to have been named World’s Leading Airline at the World Travel Awards for the third successive year.

“2011 was a fantastic year for Etihad Airways, during which we began to reap the full benefits of financial and operational strategies developed over the last five years.

The World Travel Awards – described as the “Oscars of the travel industry” by the Wall Street Journal – recognise the best airline, hospitality and tourism brands in the world. Judges look for excellence in categories such as customer relations, creativity, and quality of service, product innovation and business acumen.