Although the low-cost model has provided a truly global shot in the arm for the airline industry, with many travellers now making their purchasing decisions based solely on price, some airlines are still raising the standards with their in-flight and airport operations. World Travel Awards honour this continual pursuit of excellence in the airline industry.This year saw ten new awards for business and ten for first class air travel, split by region. The addition of these new categories reflects the proliferation of product offerings, with the business travel sector gaining particular momentum. The new categories proved popular amongst the travel professionals who cast their votes this year.
Some fresh faces have found their way into the newly structured awards. In
the Middle East - one of the world’s most thriving tourism regions - Emirates Airlines has long been the dominant force. This year they retain a presence as “Leading Business Class Airline” but Qatar Airways has taken the title of “Leading Regional Airline,” while Gulf Air are rewarded for their investment in their and take “Leading First Class Airline.” This region also grabbed the award this year for the “World’s Leading New Airline,” with Etihad making a huge impression with their distinctive approach to service.
‘At Etihad Airways we are committed to rewriting the rules of airline hospitality and to treating our passengers as valued guests. Winning this award is a good indication that we are on the right track and we are delighted to accept it,” says Peter Dunkin, UK and Ireland General Manager for Etihad.
In other regions it proved too tough to shake off the class leaders. Cathay Pacific is a good example, this year they picked up both the “Asia’s Leading Airline” award and their regional business class service award. Meanwhile Mexicana have once again scored in Central and Latin America picking up two awards.
Another airline making headlines is Continental, winning this year’s “World Leading Business Class.” It is interesting to see the presence of Continental, American Airlines and British Airways scoring batches of awards. In many ways the launch of new airlines and budget carriers have grabbed headlines and media attention with their activities, yet it is the legacy carriers that still haul the bulk of passengers around the globe, it is the legacy carriers that travel professionals have the greatest exposure to worldwide and therefore they still represent a very important and crucial element of the industry.
Over the last couple of years the industry has had to face tough conditions, but one airline continues to set the benchmark for world-class service. For the World Travel Awards and the voting industry, British Airways remains the airline by which others are measured and this is why it received “World’s Leading Airline.” To prove the point the airline took three further awards for its first class offering.