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8. Emirates

Fleet size: 174
Hub: Dubai

Emirates, the largest carrier in the Middle East, moved up two spots in this year’s rankings after placing 10th in 2011.

The airline also won the best in-flight entertainment award for the eighth year in a row. Its in-flight entertainment selection boosts of 1,200 channels and 280 movies. Founded in 1985, the government-owned carrier operates over 1,200 flights from Dubai each week. It is one of the world’s biggest airlines by passenger numbers and the largest customer of the Airbus’ A380 superjumbo.

Emirates' rapid expansion has turned Dubai into a high-volume intercontinental travel hub. In November 2011, the airline made history by announcing the largest-ever Boeing plane orderin dollar-terms to date, buying 50 new aircraft for $18 billion. However in May this year, the airline reported a 72 percent drop in 2011 earningsas rocketing fuel prices cut into profits. Fuel costs rose by 44 percent to $6.6 billion, and the airline has said recently that it has had to pass off the cost to customers.

Photo: Getty Images