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9. Thai Airways

Fleet size: 90
Hub: Bangkok

Thai Airways dropped four spots to rank ninth this year after placing among the world’s five best airlines in 2011. In 2006, the airline took the top honor as the world's best airline and placed second a year later.

The carrier, which is partly owned by the Thai government, was founded in 1960. Known for its friendly cabin staff, Thai Airways is one of few airlines that require international female flight attendants to change from their purple suits into traditional Thai dresses prior to the boarding of passengers. A popular employer in Thailand, the airline drew over 3,600 applicants for just 370 cabin crew positions last July.

This year has been one of transition for the airline after it took a big hit during the severe floods that devastated the Thai economy in late 2011. Its net profit of $113 million in the first three months of the year jumped a whopping 500 percent from a year earlier. In May, the airline also fired its presidentPiyasvasti Amranand over strategy disagreements. The management shake-up came days after news the airline was considering to launch a new budget carrier in Asia.

Photo: Saeed Khan | AFP | Getty Images