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Tue 9 Dec 2008 04:00 AM

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Glittering success

It was smiles all round for the Middle East's aviation executives during the annual Aviation Business Awards last month.

It was smiles all round for the Middle East's aviation executives during the annual Aviation Business Awards last month.

Etihad Airways proved it is top of the pile, scooping the prestigious title of Airline of the Year on November 19, at Abu Dhabi's Le Royal Meridien.

The Abu Dhabi-based carrier, which has recently celebrated its fifth birthday, is eagerly awaiting delivery of at least 100 new aircraft, ordered at the Farnborough International Air Show.

And despite the rise and fall of oil prices, the airline has proved itself to be environmentally friendly by pledging to trim its annual aviation fuel bill by US$20 million before the end of the financial year. Leading figures from the aviation industry were recognised in up to 16 award categories. Dubai's well-established airline, Emirates, picked up the most awards on the evening.

HH Sheikh Ahmed Bin Saeed Al Maktoum was crowned Airline CEO of the Year, while Dubai Emirates Aviation College was named the Aviation Training Provider of the Year. The rapidly expanding airline has extended its network and seen the opening of Terminal 3 this year.

But while Emirates has taken 23 years to establish itself, Sharjah-based Air Arabia has wasted no time in proving it is a force to be reckoned with in the region. For the second year running the airline scooped the Low Cost Carrier of the Year award. Air Arabia's return to the stage shows the world that the budget airline model is still flourishing in the United Arab Emirates.

The awards proved so successful in 2007 that two new categories were created this year; Aviation Spares and Logistics Provider of the Year, won by Airbus, and Aviation Charter Service Provider of the Year, which was won by Air Charter International.

As the Gulf region continues to prosper, private and chartered travel companies are gaining popularity, leaving plenty of room for growth.

Other award winners included Qatar Airways for In-flight Service Provider, Amadeus for Technology Provider, ExecuJet for Business Jet Provider, JorAMCo for MRO Company and GE Commercial Aviation Services for Aircraft Leasing and Finance Provider. Leading airports were also recognised during the event, with Dubai International Airport named Airport of the Year and Abu Dhabi International awarded for its duty free services and security provisions.

Donna Richardson is the editor of Aviation Business.

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