ERA 2010: Binter Canarias takes top ERA airline award

Binter Canarias has been named as the winner of the European Regions Airline Association (ERA) Airline of the Year 2010/11 Gold Award, adding to three previous ERA awards, including the 2005 Gold Award.

Pedro Agustín del Castillo, president of Binter Canarias was presented with the trophy by Filippo Bagnato, CEO of award sponsor ATR at the ERA annual awards dinner in Barcelona.

The Silver Award went to Greek re-launch carrier Olympic Air, while the Bronze Award was won by Cimber Sterling of Denmark.

The citation for Binter Canarias noted that the judges were impressed by “its team focus and strong brand – an airline totally in symbiosis with its market”. It also won praise for its strong financial situation and growth in spite of the economic crisis in Europe, resulting from a clear business development strategy. Its standardised fleet was regarded as providing “great operational and economic benefits”. Finally, it was lauded for “its innovation, focus on customer service quality, and its effective use of IT including social networks”.

Silver winner Olympic Air was commended for having been re-launched by a passionate management team, led by ERA president Antonis Simigdalas, against a backdrop of a troubled past and an extreme economic crisis in Greece. Within two months of starting operations, the airline was operating 190 daily flights. It has also brought its major competitor, Aegean Airlines, to the negotiation table to agree a merger, currently awaiting approval.

Bronze winner, Cimber Sterling, winner of last year’s Silver Award, caught the judges’ attention this year “for its securing of an IPO during very challenging market circumstances, gaining new capital to finance its rapid expansion and successful migration. It has achieved impressive ASK and RPK growth while facing tough competition from low-fare operators”. The airline has added 40 new destinations and improved its brand recognition from 38% to 98%. It has also used its new-found size to act in an industry capacity, for example performing test flights during the aftermath of the Icelandic volcano eruption.

London Southend Airport received ERA Airport Achievement Award 2010/11, while Keith Boxall, head of quality from UK carrier Air Southwest, was honoured with the ERA Director General’s Commendation for Services to Intra-European Air Transport. Boxall has tirelessly represented ERA members within several EASA working groups. In addition, during the volcanic ash crisis, he provided essential information to ERA on the operational conditions of aircraft which was critical in pursuing an operational solution with Eurocontrol and the UK CAA.

Cathy Buyck, senior editor and Europe bureau chief of Air Transport World was awarded the ERA Hank McGonagle Journalism Award 2010/11 for an article on the introduction of aviation into the EU Emissions Trading Scheme.

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