Etihad Airways was named the World's Leading Airline at the World Travel Awards.
Awards recognise Etihad as world's best airline
LONDON // Three years ago, James Hogan, the chief executive of Etihad Airways, announced somewhat boldly that the airline's goal was "to be the best in the world". Last night in London, his statement seemed a little bit less like bravado and a little more like a good strategic move as the carrier was named the World's Leading Airline at the World Travel Awards.
The accolade came after voting by more than 180,000 travel professionals from more than 175 countries. Mr Hogan, who flew over for the ceremony with the marketing director, Peter Baumgartner, said Etihad was honoured to be recognised by travel agents and others in the profession, as "they are the people who really know what travellers are looking for in an airline". Etihad is the first Middle Eastern airline to win the award. Voters cited a strong service ethic and first-rate facilities both on board and on the ground. It also won the award for Leading First Class. The airline has frequently won awards for its business class and it introduced a new first class in the summer.
"This country is creating a modern Arabia and we need to contribute to that," Mr Baumgartner said. "We take Abu Dhabi to the world and bring the world to Abu Dhabi." The award comes just as the airline is about to announce improvements to its economy class. A leading-edge inflight entertainment system is due by the end of the year and a new service in economy will be rolled out progressively on all routes starting later this month. "The new economy service is an extension of the inspired service philosophy already embedded in our premium cabins. It delivers a level of personal attention and touches of luxury that will make the economy travel experience the best in the sky," Mr Hogan said.
"As we move into 2010, we intend to cement our place as the world's best airline, opening up new routes, taking delivery of new aircraft, investing in new products in the air and on the ground, and introducing a range of online initiatives to make travelling with Etihad better than ever. Our next growth phase will also position Etihad to reach its goal of profitability in 2011. This will be a key focus for us as we move forward with a programme of continuous investment in our network, our product, and in staff training and development."