x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 24 January 2018

Emirates Palace and Etihad win top awards

Abu Dhabi's Emirates Palace and Etihad Airways pick up honours at the World Travel Awards.

Abu Dhabi last night scooped up some of the most sought-after travel awards in the industry.

Emirates Palace picked up two honours at the World Travel Awards, for the world's leading conference and meetings hotel, and the world's leading presidential suite.

Etihad Airways was named the world's leading airline at the ceremony for the third year in a row. The accolade comes following a year in which Etihad has continued its aggressive expansion.

"Highlights included the launch of seven new international routes, a move into operating profitability and the purchase of a 29.2 per cent stake in airberlin, a landmark deal that enables access to 33 million new passengers in Europe," Etihad said.

The airline also yesterday announced that it had started code-share flights with airberlin. Etihad became airberlin's biggest single shareholder last month.

Airberlin is to operate four flights a week between Berlin and Abu Dhabi starting on Sunday.

"Etihad Airways will place its EY code on these flights, providing European travellers with immediate access to a total of 29 flights a week to and through Abu Dhabi from four German hubs - Berlin, Düsseldorf, Frankfurt, Munich - with a plan to increase to 42 flights from mid-April," Etihad said.

"Part of the new strategic partnership will see airberlin place its AB code on Etihad Airways flights from Düsseldorf, Frankfurt and Munich to Abu Dhabi and on Etihad Airways' flights from Abu Dhabi to Bangkok, Malé and Singapore," Etihad said.

The Abu Dhabi airline also received awards for the world's leading first class and world's leading airline to the Middle East.

Judges in the World Travel Awards, which The Wall Street Journal has described as the "Oscars of the travel industry", consider areas including customer relations, service and business acumen.

"The fact recognition of investment at an industry level is happening should, in my view, be lauded and commended," said Saj Ahmad, the chief analyst at StrategicAero Research. "It is a recognised industry award. If nothing else, Etihad winning again shows how far ahead it has come."

The Kempinski Mall of the Emirates hotel in Dubai was named the world's leading leisure hotel and the world's leading shopping centre hotel.