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Tue 9 Dec 2008 04:00 AM

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Rising stars

Following this year’s Aviation Business Awards, what does the recognition mean to the winners?

Following the announcement of this year's Aviation Business Awards, what does the recognition mean to the winners?

Duty Free of the Year: Abu Dhabi Duty Free

Abu Dhabi Duty Free was proud to win the Duty Free of the Year accolade at the Aviation Business awards ceremony.

Travellers can enjoy a range of top name brands in fashion, cosmetics, confectioneries, electronic equipment, and gold. In addition the company organises the Big Ticket Raffle prize draw giving passengers the opportunity to win luxury cars, expensive apartments and cash prizes. Dan Cappell, vice president of non aeronautical revenue (APAC) was delighted by the announcement.

"It is a credit to the whole team and I thank all the duty free team for all their hard work and their effort and hopefully it is the first of many. When you are in the position that we are where we are growing very rapidly and management is changing, to be able to be recognised is a fantastic honour."

Management believes the award was well deserved. "We have great style, a great product, a good environment and hopefully, a fantastic world-class service," adds Cappell.

Business Jet Provider of the Year: ExecuJet

Air charter provider ExecuJet claimed the plaudit of Business Jet Provider of the Year at the Aviation Business Awards.

November was a big month for the company. Not only did ExecuJet scoop this award, but it also put on a grand show at the Middle East Business Aviation (MEBA) exhibition. Since forming in 1999, ExecuJet, a private charter company, which provides passenger services to VIPs and corporate clients, has made a big impact on this industry.

Recently, the company announced plans to build a passenger processing lounge at Dubai World Central.  As he collects the award, managing director of ExecuJet, Mike Berry, tells Aviation Business: "We are very pleased to win this award. For us it is about gaining recognition, not only for the company, but for the loyal and dedicated staff that work for ExecuJet. We have worked for many years to create the company we have today. Along with our partners in the region we constantly seek to lift the standards, so we appreciate this recognition."

Aviation Technology Provider of the Year: Amadeus

As a technology partner to providers, sellers and buyers of travel, Amadeus was happy to be recognised as winners of this year's Aviation Technology Provider of the Year award.

The judges felt Amadeus was deserving of this award as, over the last 12 months, it has provided its airline customers throughout the Middle East with the latest technology solutions to help them adapt, grow and succeed in a travel industry, which is facing some tough times.

However, Ahmed Youssef, head of special projects, sees the recognition as going beyond the work of the last 12 months alone. "It symbolises the effort that Amadeus has put in over more than two years in winning the travel agencies trust," Youssef points out.

"It is an honour to receive this award and we are committed to this region. We are here with 13 leading carriers to make the future happen. We aim to bring the industry the best content we can." In-flight services of the Year: Qatar Airways

Established as a five star airline, Qatar Airways' management felt the In-flight Services of the Year title was well deserved.

In the past year the airline has launched several new destinations including JFK airport in New York and Kozhikode in India. Expansions will continue into the new year with flights to Houston being launched next spring.

At present the airline services include online check in, an advanced, on demand in-flight entertainment system across all classes and a superior quality meals service.

In addition, first class passengers can enjoy lie-flat beds and an impressive lounge, which boasts a Jacuzzi and massage spa.

"It feels wonderful to win this award, it's very exciting and it shows that Qatar Airways are continuing to develop and find new ways to provide the absolute best in-flight services for their customers," says Abdul Qadir Aziz, regional manager for the UAE, Pakistan, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia.

Aviation Spares and Logistics Provider of the Year: Airbus

Airbus operates its award winning spares and logistics division out of the Dubai Airport Free Zone, which helps it to reduce the time and cost in transporting spares.

The location of the centre could prove to be of strategic importance as Airbus predicts passenger traffic growth of over 6% and cargo of 5% during the next 20 years in the region. "It's a great recognition for companies settling in the Middle East," explains Joerg Helmerichs, senior director of Airbus. "I think there is enormous growth in the industry and it shows me that we are one of the first recognised and now awarded partners in this important and strategic region."

As the Middle East prepares to undergo one of the biggest aviation growth rates of anywhere in the world, logistics centres are becoming essential to the region's ongoing operations within the aviation market, believes Helmerichs.

"We have spent a lot of time and effort putting equipment here in the Middle East and we are actually growing constantly. This award shows that we are taken seriously," he adds.

Airport Security Provider of the Year: Abu Dhabi Airports Company

Abu Dhabi Airports Company (ADAC) took a trophy after winning the Airport Security of the Year category.

It has been a busy year for ADAC with a key area of focus on Al Bateen airport - the new executive jet and charter facility. An ambitious multi-million dollar programme to transform the existing Abu Dhabi Airport into ‘a best in class' facility is also underway.

"On behalf of ADAC we would like to like to thank the organisers and we have worked really hard to get this award," says Ahmad Al Hadabi, vice president of safety, security and environment.

"We are very pleased to be here tonight. We look after a number of airports in the region and now we have successfully met all the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) security announcements we are able to fly from Abu Dhabi to the United States. We are really happy to be awarded and be recognised at this event and we will take this as a motivating step to inspire us to work even harder in the future." Airport Passenger Handling of the Year: Dnata Airport Operations

Vincent Dennehy, vice president of sales and service delivery for Dnata Airport Operations collected the award for Airport Passenger Handling of the Year and describes the accolade as a result of the company's team effort. "This award is recognition of the team work that the Dnata staff has put in," explains Dennehy. "It is a nice recognition for us."

It has been an eventful year for the passenger handling services provider. Dnata operates out of Dubai International Airport, the world's fastest growing airport, but as Dennehy explains, there have been some significant, and often interesting challenges to overcome.

"It was quite a difficult situation with the late opening of Terminal 3. We were working in, what can only be described as not ideal conditions in Terminal 1, because it was overcrowded, congested and operating well over its design capacity. Dennehy, adds: "Until Emirates moved out, which was only at the end of October this year, we have had some significant and interesting issues to work through."

Airport of the Year: Dubai Airports

Dubai Airports' was hoping to scoop two accolades at the Aviation Business Awards this year; Ground Handling Operator of the Year and Airport of the Year. The owner/operator of Dubai International Airport was successful in the latter, despite having to fulfil the commitments of an ambitious year.

The airport has also opened its new facility at the Executive Flights Centre (EFC) at Dubai International and Jamal Zaal Bin Krishan, the EFC's general manager was present to collect the award for Airport of the Year on behalf of the company.

"In the beginning we were hoping to win two awards, one for the Ground Handling of the Year and the other for Airport of the Year. It turns out we won the latter award and it confirms the support we get from the government. It has been proven that Dubai Airports' vision is on the right track to deliver services, whether they be for private or commercial aircraft."

Not only has the airport opened its new VIP terminal for the EFC's passengers, it has also opened its new Terminal 3 this year, and boosts the airport's handling capacity close to 70 million passengers.  As the year draws to a close, Dubai Airports is continuing with its plans for the opening of Al Maktoum International Airport. Operations from the new facility, which is situated in Jebel Ali, are expected to start from mid-2009.

Ground Handling Operator of the Year: Dnata Airport Operations

Dnata Airport Operations was recognised for delivering ‘exceptional service' in baggage, loading and towing services by winning the Ground Handling Operator of the Year category.

The company, which operates out of Dubai International, beat off stiff competition from Oman Aviation Services, Qatar Aviation Service and Dubai Airports' Executive Flight Centre.

Earlier in the evening, the company which deals in both cargo and ground handling scooped another award for Airport Passenger Handling.

To cope with the rapid growth of Dubai International Airport, Dnata Ground Handling recently split into Airport Operations Emirates (EK), Airport Operations Other Airlines (OAL), Airport Operations Terminal 2 and Freighter Handling.

Its core business is baggage services, operations services, passenger services, ramp services and technical services.Dnata is rapidly expanding its services internationally and is represented in seven countries and 18 international airports. The company's vice president of sales and service delivery, Vincent Dennehy, says: "Winning this award is particularly gratifying and we were privileged to have won the award last year too."

Maintenance Repair and Overhaul (MRO) Provider of the Year: JorAMCo

Jordanian maintenance company JorAMCo has, for the second year running, proved itself to be the most popular in the Middle East. Offering services worldwide from a skilled engineering team, the company has secured several new clients in the last year, including Turkish carrier, Sun Express.

Despite the financial crisis, the company's management remains positive about the future, arguing that the high numbers of aircraft orders in the region will generate plenty of work in the coming years. In addition, JorAMCo has an active research team capable of investigating which companies require services.

"This accolade is awarding an army of professionals working behind us," says Bassem Masri, chief technology officer at JorAMCo. "I'm very proud to receive it on behalf of all JorAMCo employees and to present it to our CEO. It's very exciting and it encourages us to keep delivering the same level of service."

"Last year we expanded our facility and doubled capacity. We increased our capabilities, doubled our employees and delivered an excellent service," he adds.

Aircraft Leasing and Finance Provider of the Year: GE Commercial

More than 225 airline customers in more than 70 countries work with GE Commercial Aviation Services across the world.

As winners of this year's Aircraft Leasing and Finance category the judges took into account all the company's customer requirements, including those operating freighters, regional jets and commercial airlines.

Many commercial airlines have chosen GE Commercial over the last 12 months due to its large portfolio of aircraft featuring an array of aircraft types from Airbus, Boeing, Bombardier and Embraer.

The firm operates out of Dubai and the company's team works to tailor the lease terms to the needs of customers in the region. Lower cash outlays, fleet flexibility, the freedom to increase and reduce capacity and newer aircraft models all culminate in the company being named as this year's Aircraft Leasing and Finance Provider of the Year.

Cutting the need for pre-delivery payments and large down payments from manufacturers also made GE Commercial Aviation Services a clear award winner.

AviationTraining Academy of the Year: Emirates Aviation College

Emirates Aviation College had its efforts rewarded when it was named Aviation Training Academy of the year at the Aviation Business Awards.

The panel of judges picked a winner that offers a wide range of courses, including degree programmes, top-up degrees, short courses and comprehensive corporate training.Hamad Obaidalla, divisional senior vice president of network operations at Emirates understands why the college has been chosen as an award winner. "We do look after training extremely well, we graduate almost 5000 students in terms of pilots and cabin crew from the college."

Obaidalla puts the college's success down to good planning. "I think we started earlier than others and we are growing. We have the best skilled people who can teach the courses that we offer," says Obaidalla. "I thank the organisers of this industry and the judges who have come to evaluate this. We feel proud to be awarded this accolade."

Emirates Aviation College is spread over three buildings near Dubai airport and recently it announced the signing of a five-year contract with Gulf Helicopters.

Aircraft Charter Service Provider of the Year: Air Charter International

Air Charter International, the Dubai-based aircraft leasing and charter services company has had a busy year providing business air charters at short notice to all parts of the world.

The private jet and charter services market is currently experiencing extraordinary growth in the Middle East as corporate travellers favour the exclusivity an air charter service can provide. Commercial airlines have also increased fare prices over the last year or so, due to the rise in oil price, so spending a little extra on a business jet charter has become more attractive.

"Being recognised for this award means a great deal for the company," explains Yogesh Upadhyay, commercial leasing manager for Air Charter International. "We have invested heavily in building our business application and provide continuous client support before, during and after signing a contract."

Air Route Aviation Services, Empire, Arab Wings, Air Charter Service and DC Aviation were also nominated. "It is an amazing achievement for us as the competition in the category was very strong," Upadhyay concludes.

Low Cost Carrier of the Year: Air Arabia

Once again, Air Arabia proved it is the cream of the crop in the budget airline market. For the second year running, the carrier scooped the award for Low Cost Carrier of the Year.

Housam Raydan, the company's corporate communications manager, picked up the award on behalf of the company's CEO, Adel Ali. "This is the second year in a row that we have won the best low cost category," he says. "We are delighted about it. It means a lot to us, as it recognises that we have worked hard to get to where we are today."

Air Arabia has plenty of things planned for the year ahead. "In Arabia we are in the expansion mode, and next year we will be opening our second hub in Morocco. We will also be introducing our third hub in the region, along with announcing our future work in this area. We believe we are doing a great job and so it is good to be recognised for our achievements," explains Raydan.

Airline CEO of the Year: HH Sheikh Ahmed Bin Saeed Al Maktoum, Emirates

Hamad Obaidalla, divisional senior vice president of network operations at Emirates, collected the award for Airline CEO of the Year, on behalf of HH Sheikh Ahmed Bin Saeed Al Maktoum, at this year's Aviation Business Awards.

The judges felt Emirates' CEO was a strong leader in setting out the airlines ongoing ambitions.

Emirates is now operating all of its flights out of the new Terminal 3 at Dubai International Airport, which, due to its size, is providing ample capacity for the airline to grow. Emirates is one of the fastest growing airlines in the world with over 90 destinations in Europe, the Middle East, the Far East, Africa, Asia, Australasia and North America.

Unfortunately HH Sheikh Ahmed Bin Saeed Al Maktoum, was unable to collect the award himself and his divisional senior vice president of network operations spoke on his behalf. "First of all on behalf of Sheikh Ahmed, he apologises for not being here tonight, but I am proud and privileged to be honoured with this award for Sheikh Ahmed. He says he is successful at what he does, only because of his people.

"He is definitely a leader in the industry and I am thankful to the panel and the aviation sector for recognising Sheikh Ahmed as Airline CEO for this year."

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