Airline and airport executives were lauded at a gala dinner in Singapore Monday evening at the Air Transport World 40th annual Airline Industry Achievement Awards.
The awards, held at the Pan Pacific Singapore hotel, were hosted by ATW group publisher Bill Freeman, editor-in-chief Karen Walker, senior editor Aaron Karp and European bureau chief Victoria Moores.
This year’s honor of Airline of the Year was awarded to Atlanta-based Delta Air Lines, which was recognized for its stellar financial performance, innovative strategies, excellent customer service and strong commitment to environmental practices and community work.
Other awards went to Abu Dhabi-based Etihad Airways (Airline Market Leadership); former Latin American airline association ALTA executive director Alex de Gunten (Decade of Excellence); Canada’s WestJet (Value Airline of the Year); Utah-based SkyWest (Regional Airline of the Year); New York-based JetBlue Airways (Airline Technology Leadership); and Singapore Changi Airport (Airport of the Year).
Some 300 guests, including airline CEOs, senior aerospace manufacturer executives and an IATA contingency, attended the event.
“We had a fantastic lineup of winners for our 40th Awards,” Walker said. “All of them seemed truly honored to receive this recognition by ATW.”
Delta Air Lines: Airline of the Year
Delta Air Lines became the first US carrier in more than 10 years to receive the ATW top award of Airline of the Year. Delta was honored for its stellar financial performance, excellent operations and innovative strategic leadership that has seen the airline take control of fuel costs by acquiring an oil refinery, forge a transatlantic alliance with Virgin Atlantic, massively reduce debt and become one of the strongest brands in the industry. Delta president Ed Bastian received the award, saying he was “most humbled and very honored.”
Etihad Airways: Airline Market Leadership
In just one decade from its launch, Etihad has become profitable, established Abu Dhabi as a major world hub, and forged a number of strategic airline partnerships in which it holds equity stakes. A Boeing 777X launch customer, Etihad has also now established Etihad Regional—a Swiss-based European carrier. Etihad president and CEO James Hogan received the award.
WestJet: Value Airline of the Year
Calgary-based WestJet has transformed the Canadian low-cost market with a smart combination of disciplined cost control and excellent customer service. The carrier has been consistently profitable for nine consecutive years and holds profit-sharing parties twice annually to hand over checks to its employees. Since its launch in 1996, WestJet has grown to become Canada’s second-largest airline with some 40% market share. WestJet CEO Gregg Saretsky received the award, telling guests, “just when we thought it couldn’t get any better, we learned we had won this ATW award.”
Alex de Gunten: Decade of Excellence
ATW awarded its 2014 individual honor to Alex de Gunten for his 10 years as executive director of the Latin American airlines’ association ALTA. In that time, he was the driver of a campaign to get the region’s airlines to work together on common issues such as safety and to collectively put Latin American carriers on the map, making them desired targets for global airline alliances.
ATW senior editor Aaron Karp presented the award.
SkyWest: Regional Airline of the Year
From humble beginnings with a handful of Piper turboprops, SkyWest has ascended into becoming the US’ largest regional carrier with more US routes and city destinations than any other airline in the world. SkyWest has a reputation with manufacturers that if its aircraft is to be taken seriously on the world market, getting SkyWest as a customer is a must. SkyWest board director Steven Udvar-Hazy accepted the award.
JetBlue: Airline Technology Leadership
New York-based JetBlue Airways has placed itself at the cutting edge of technology innovation from the get-go, installing LiveTV entertainment at every seat and becoming the first airline in the world to install ultra-fast Ka-band satellite Wi-Fi, giving passengers home-like Internet service. The airline has also led the way in demonstrating and installing NextGen technologies that make more efficient use of airspace. Receiving the award was JetBlue chief information officer Eash Sundaram.
Singapore Changi Airport: Airport of the Year
The ATW inaugural Airport of the Year recipient, Changi, has a long-held reputation as a sterling operation with a model that is envied and copied worldwide. Changi has never rested on its laurels, continually making improvements and working with its airline customers to help boost traffic. Changi Airport Group has embarked on several expansion and improvement projects, including new terminal T4, and a plan to double capacity over the next decade. CAG executive vice president Tan Lye Teck received the award.