ERA 2016: Binter leads ERA Airline of the Year awards

The European Regions Airline Association (ERA) has named Binter as the winner of the prestigious Gold prize in its ERA Airline of the Year awards.

The independent judging panel commended the airline for its constant growth and expansion into new markets such as Cape Verde. The airline, which maintained solid profitability in 2015 despite the harsh economic conditions in the Spanish market, operates inter-island services within the Canary Islands and also flies to Portugal and west Africa in challenging weather conditions.

Binter president Pedro Agustin del Castillo commented, “All of us who form part of Binter, employees and shareholders, are extremely proud to have received the ERA Airline of the Year award. This award recognises Binter’s management and underlines to its customers the airline’s soundness.

“This is our sixth time of winning this ERA awards. This is important for us because it implies this is not a one-off achievement, but rather recognition of our continuing endeavour over time and the daily efforts of all the people working at Binter to provide the best regional transport service,” del Castillo added.

Since Canary Island entrepreneurs took control of the carrier in 2002, around €700 million has been invested in the fleet, most recently with another order for ATR 72-600s. The airline now operates 140 flights a day across its network including flights to nine cities in west Africa.

The company has recently created Binter CV to operate from Cabo Verde, for which del Castillo expects a licence to be granted by the end of October for operations to begin in early November. The new entity will compete directly with indigenous airline TACV. “We’re likely to be on all the same routes, but they don’t have the frequency we are going to put on,” del Castillo pointed out.

So far as its operations in west Africa, del Castillo emphasised the need to develop its current routes before adding new destinations. Part of this will include creating a business class product by leaving some seats empty next to passengers.

Following that, the airline’s future jet fleet will be considered in the next two years. Currently the fleet includes two Bombardier CRJ900s on lease from Air Nostrum. “We’ll probably need four aircraft of around 100 seats, which will be our own,” del Castillo reported.

In the other ERA awards, CityJet received the Silver award following its turnaround, developing its ACMI business and taking two new types into its fleet. The Bronze Award went to Flybe, again for an impressive turnaround and a return to profitability.

The Airport Award went to Southampton Airport for demonstrating “extraordinary involvement with the local community, providing new services to disabled passengers and reducing its carbon footprint by 13%”.

Finally, Jesper Rungholm, CEO of Danish Air Transport (DAT) received ERA’s acclaimed Personal Excellence award, chosen by ERA director general Simon McNamara, who praised Rungholm for “his long term commitment to the association, as a pioneer in the business and an outspoken advocate for the business over many years”.

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