NEW YORK, Jan. 14 /PRNewswire/ -- Penton Media's Air Transport World®, the leading monthly magazine covering the global airline industry, today announced the selection of Air New Zealand as its Airline of the Year for 2010. The Auckland, N.Z.-based carrier is being honored for its superb commitment to safety and operational excellence, typified by the use of Performance Based Navigation cockpit technology at weather and terrain challenged destinations, and for its superb and groundbreaking customer service that combines high-tech, passenger-friendly IT systems with high-touch and caring staff.
The editors further cited Air New Zealand's sterling financial performance and fiscal management during one of the most turbulent periods in aviation history. They also were strongly impressed with the airline's leadership role in addressing environmental challenges facing the industry, including conducting the world's first sustainable biofuel flight.
Sydney, Australia-based Regional Express was named Regional Airline of the Year. Rex, as it is known locally, is recognized for its superior safety record and operational excellence, demonstrated by outstanding punctuality and flight completion. The editors also applauded the "Rex Virtuous Cycle" model in which Rex competes against itself by adding capacity as load factors rise, causing fares to fall. As a result, enplanements have doubled over the past five years, while airfares have dropped 30%, excluding fuel levies; and it earns consistently high marks in consumer polls. Rex's strategy rewards shareholders, too: It has been profitable for the last six years.
In a rare joint award, Honeywell Aerospace and Rockwell Collins were selected for the Aviation Technology Achievement Award to recognize their advanced cockpit weather radars. These systems are playing a vital role in improving safety of flight, reducing turbulence-related injuries and boosting operational efficiency. "Competition drives innovation and technological advancement. As Rockwell Collins and Honeywell Aerospace have sought to leapfrog each other in weather radar technology, the beneficiaries have been flight crews and the flying public," ATW Editorial Director Perry Flint said.
The Joseph S. Murphy Industry Service Award, named for the founder of ATW, went to the Commercial Aviation Alternative Fuels Initiative, a US-based cooperative effort launched in 2006 by airlines, airports, manufacturers and the Federal Aviation Administration to guide the development and deployment of alternative fuels for air transport. CAAFI has since added approximately 300 members around the world. CAAFI's efforts helped lead to approval of a new specification for alternative jet fuel that should pave the way for near-term approval of sustainable plant-based biofuels.
Riga, Latvia-based airBaltic was selected for the Phoenix Award, which recognizes airlines that have gone through a life-changing transformation. The editors cited airBaltic's successful decision to change its business strategy from a focus on point-to-point traffic in favor of a network model making Riga a connecting hub between East and West. Since making the transition, airBaltic has experienced significant improvements in traffic and financial performance, including a 33% rise in passengers at its home airport in the first nine months of 2009.
Orlando, Fla.-based AirTran Airways received the Airline Market Leadership Award. The editors recognized the carrier's innovative blending of the traditional low-fare model with service amenities not typical of budget airlines, including a business class cabin and free XM Satellite Radio. The editors further cited AirTran's leadership role in becoming the first major airline to offer Wi-Fi on every flight through its partnership with Aircell. AirTran is also a market leader in terms of operational performance, as measured by the U.S. Dept. of Transportation.
The awards will be presented on February 1 in Singapore at ATW's gala dinner and celebration at the Swissotel-The Stamford. Further information about the award winners is available in the February issue of ATW.
Air Transport World (www.ATWOnline.com) is the leading monthly magazine serving the airline and commercial aircraft manufacturing and support industries. It launched its awards program in 1974. ATW is published by Penton Media.
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