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CAPA Announces 2018 Aviation Awards For Excellence

Qantas, WOW Air, CityJet, Air Malta, LEVEL, Wizz Air's Varadi All Recognized

Qantas Group, WOW air, CityJet, Air Malta and LEVEL have won the airline awards at the 2018 CAPA World Aviation Outlook Summit, held in Berlin on November 27.

Wizz Air CEO Jozsef Varadi won the executive of the year award and Winding Tree the innovation of the year award. Orlando International and Avinor Oslo Airport won the two airport categories.

CAPA's Aviation Awards for Excellence are regarded as the pre-eminent awards for strategic excellence in aviation.

Qantas Group awarded CAPA Airline of the Year

This award is to the airline that has been the biggest standout strategically during the year, has had the greatest impact on the development of the airline industry, has established itself as a leader, and provided a benchmark for others to follow. Qantas was selected for yet another year of strategic accomplishments. Qantas won the CAPA Airline of the Year award in 2015 and has since continued to post some of the highest profit margins in the airline industry while continuing to innovate.

In March 2018, Qantas launched service from Perth to London, marking the first ever nonstop link between Australia and Europe. Qantas also has used its new 787 fleet to launch new flights from Melbourne to San Francisco and replace 747-400s on several existing long haul flights, driving efficiency improvements and frequency increases. Meanwhile, Qantas has pushed Airbus and Boeing this year to develop a new ultra-long range widebody capable of operating nonstop flights from Sydney to London with a full payload of 300 passengers across four classes.

"Qantas has had yet another remarkable year, posting a record profit for FY2018 and for the first time connecting the antipodes non-stop by launching nonstop flights from Perth to London," CAPA Executive Chairman Peter Harbison said. "Linking Australia and the UK nonstop is a major milestone for aviation in Australia and globally. Qantas is now pushing the envelope even further with preparations for nonstop services from Sydney to London, what it correctly claims will be the 'holy grail' of flights."

Jozsef Varadi awarded CAPA Aviation Executive of the Year Award

This award is for the airline executive who has had the greatest individual influence on the aviation industry, demonstrating outstanding strategic thinking and innovative direction for the growth of their business and the industry. Jozsef Varadi was selected for growing Wizz Air into the largest airline in Central/Eastern Europe. Mr Varadi co-founded Wizz in 2003 and the airline now carries over 34 million passengers per year with a fleet of 105 aircraft.

Wizz won the CAPA Low Cost Airline of the Year in 2016. It has since grown, profitably, by nearly another 50%, recording passenger growth of 24% in 2017 and 20% through the first 11 months of 2018. "Jozsef Varadi has shown remarkable courage and vision in building a profitable low cost airline in a market historically associated with state owned, bureaucratically run, loss-making flag carriers," Harbison said.

WOW air awarded CAPA Low Cost Airline of the Year

The Low Cost Airline of the Year Award is for the low cost or hybrid airline that has been the biggest standout strategically, has established itself as a leader, has been most innovative, and provided a benchmark for others to follow. WOW air was selected for pioneering the long haul low cost connecting model, using its Reykjavik hub to offer one-stop services between Europe and North America.

WOW commenced operations in 2012 and has grown its seat capacity at an average of 28% pa over the past five years. WOW now operates a fleet of 17 narrowbody and three widebody aircraft from its Reykjavik hub to 10 destinations in Europe and 10 in North America. WOW only entered the trans-Atlantic market in Mar-2015, but is now the second largest LCC in this market with a 1.7% seat share.

On November 5, 2018, Icelandair announced that it had agreed to take over privately owned WOW air in an all share purchase to create a bigger Icelandic competitive force on the North Atlantic, subject to shareholder and regulatory approval. "It is a mark of WOW air's success that its biggest and closest competitor's only response is to buy it," Harbison said.

CityJet awarded CAPA Regional Airline of the Year

This award is presented to the regional airline that has been the biggest standout strategically, has established itself as a leader, and demonstrated innovation in the regional aviation sector. CityJet was selected for its successful strategic transformation that has resulted in its emergence as Europe’s leading third party provider of regional airline capacity under ACMI arrangements. "CityJet has very astutely pioneered a new vision of regional airline operations in Europe, focusing on third party wet leasing to offset revenue risk and driving consolidation in pursuit of greater efficiency,” Harbison said.

Air Malta awarded the CAPA Turnaround Airline of the Year

The CAPA Turnaround Airline of the Year is awarded to an existing airline that has turned around through innovative strategic changes and/or a restructuring exercise. Air Malta was selected for its successful transformation, resulting in transformation from a heavy loss-making to a break-even result for the fiscal year ending March 2018.

LEVEL awarded CAPA Start-up of the Year

The Start-up of the Year award is for the past year’s airline start-up that has been the most innovative and had the greatest impact on the industry since launch. International Airlines Group (IAG) low cost unit LEVEL was selected for its innovative strategy and rapid growth since launching in June 2017.

Winding Tree awarded the CAPA Innovation of the Year

This award is given to the airline, airport or supplier responsible for the most powerful innovation in the industry over the past 12 months. Winding Tree was selected for developing innovative blockchain technology for the travel ecosystem.  Winding Tree is a non-profit foundation that drives the development of open-source protocols to allow any company, big or small, or even an individual developer, to try them out and integrate with its blockchain-based decentralised open-source travel distribution platform.

Blockchain is one of the buzzwords of today and could help replace older legacy technology across the travel and air transport sectors. Winding Tree has already secured agreements with the likes of Air France-KLM, Air New Zealand, Lufthansa and Swissport as it works to develop blockchain technology for the industry. “Blockchain is being used globally to build encrypted, shared platforms, providing a secure and efficient way to track the exchange of goods or information,” Harbison said. “Winding Tree plans to open the door for innovation in the travel industry.”

Orlando International Airport awarded CAPA Large Airport of the Year (over 30 million annual passengers)

This is awarded to the airport with over 30 million annual passengers that has been the biggest standout strategically, has established itself as a strategic leader, and done the most to advance the progress of the aviation industry. Orlando International Airport was selected for its creative adoption of new technology and rapid growth.

Orlando overtook Miami in 2017 to become Florida’s busiest airport. Passenger numbers reached nearly 45 million in 2017 compared to less than 35 million in 2010 and Orlando should reach the 50 million milestone in 2019. Growth has accelerated the last four years with passenger numbers increasing by at least 6% every year since 2015.

Avinor Oslo Airport awarded Medium Airport of the Year (over 10 million annual passengers)

This is awarded to the airport with over 10 million annual passengers that has been the biggest standout strategically, has established itself as a strategic leader, and done the most to advance the progress of the aviation industry. Avinor Oslo Airport was selected for its innovation in the area of environmentalism and the opening of a second terminal. Oslo traffic has increased by more than 50% since 2010, when it handled only 19 million passengers. It is on pace to handle around 29 million passengers in 2018, making it the second biggest airport in the Nordic region despite Norway having the smallest population apart from Iceland.

(Source: CAPA news release)

FMI: centreforaviation.com

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