CATEGORY: Regional GOLD AWARD: Southampton International ,UK

ACHIEVEMENT: Building and sustaining business traffic through developing links with key customers, media and staff.

Southampton Airport, in common with many of Europe's regional airports, is focused on building business traffic and has already established itself in that role on the south coast of England. But to help underpin this success, Southampton has set out to build links with three core groups.

The first is the "High Flyers", a group of frequent business travellers, who meet at least once every quarter to discuss the development and future direction of the airport.

A second long-running partnership is with the "Dirty Dozen", which represents key corporate travel agents within the region. The airport helps to bring them together with its existing or prospective airlines to discuss new route opportunities. Third are the "Scoops" meetings, which provide a regular forum for contact with the travel and aviation press.

Airport staff are also seen as critical to success and Southampton prides itself on the level of customer service. The Quality of Service Monitor, conducted among passengers, has consistently put the airport in the lead within its parent BAA group. In 1998 it emerged ahead of the BAA's giant London Heathrow and Gatwick hubs.

The judging panel felt that the airport's initiative in going out to look for these core groups had provided the building blocks for sustained future growth. Southampton has clearly benefited from its place within the BAA group, including investment of some £30 million ($50 million). However, the panel felt that this was balanced by the financial disciplines inherent in being part of a large group. The judges also noted that improved motorway links potentially put Southampton in competition with the big London hubs, yet its passenger numbers grew by close to 20% over 1998 - a figure that remains impressive even by the levels expected in a booming regional market.



HIGHLY COMMENDED - Norwich International, UK

ACHIEVEMENT: Taking the risk of chartering aircraft to foster growth in the leisure market

Faced with tough competition for scheduled services from neighbouring London Stansted and Luton, Norwich Airport has focused a large part of its three-year strategy on building a charter business. It took the risk of chartering its own aircraft for a series of weekly departures and selling seats to four of the big UK tour operator. These flights now account for over 10% of the airport's 320,000 passengers and have helped double the number of holiday destinations on offer to 12. Overall traffic was up 18% in 1998. The airport has also acquired five local travel agencies over the last year to add to its Travel Norwich Airport distribution arm which promotes flights via the airport. Scheduled services are being upgraded where possible, as part of an underlying plan to "develop strengths and strengthen weaknesses".


HIGHLY COMMENDED - Bristol International, UK

ACHIEVEMENT: Achieving strong traffic growth after an aggressive new marketing drive. After changing hands three years ago, the new management team at Bristol Airport set about a five year strategy of re-establishing its reputation and kick-starting growth. A series of infrastructure improvements began, including a pledge to build the long-promised new terminal and install Category 3 landing systems.

Aggressive new incentives were also offered in order to attract both new scheduled routes and tour operators, backed by a rebranding exercise for the airport as a whole and individual marketing projects, such as a frequent flyer scheme introduced for business travellers. As a result, scheduled passenger numbers have grown by over 50% in two years, while charter traffic is up 30%. Overall numbers will have topped 2 million this year, up from 1.4 million in 1996. The new terminal, which will open in March, is due to add capacity for 3.5 million passengers.


CATEGORY: Regional GOLD AWARD: Sheffield City ,UK

ACHIEVEMENT: Attracting airlines to an untested new airport by taking its case direct to potentially sceptical airline managements

When Sheffield City Airport opened its doors two years ago, many doubted that it could survive in competition with the existing hubs of northern England. Yet by the middle of this year, the airport had built up a credible scheduled route network with two of Europe's main regional carriers.

The strategy began with the realisation that the airport was an unknown entity, with no track record and restricted budgets.

Potential routes from the city had already been identified through market research. Despite the relative proximity of a major hub at Manchester, the team at Sheffield pointed to a highly-populated catchment area which needed a more convenient city airport. The next step was to convince Europe's regional carriers. The team created a hard-edged corporate report to put in front of airline chief executives and also set about putting the message across at key conferences including the Routes event in London last year.

The performance of launch carrier KLM uk was used to reinforce the message and by March this year, British Airways franchise partner, British Regional Airlines (BRAL), was persuaded to sign up. It has based four turboprops at the airport and will have six routes in place by the end of the year, including Dublin and Paris. Sabena has announced plans to find an operators to fly to Brussels.

The judging panel were impressed with the way that Sheffield had managed to convince some sceptical airline boardrooms that the airport was viable, with a clear, commercial business case presented to the airlines.

Ultimately, while other city airports around the world had managed to sustain solid growth, the judges felt that this had been Sheffield's year in proving the sceptics wrong. More than one judge admitted to having been among the doubters.


CATEGORY: Major Hub Airport GOLD AWARD: Munich Airport Germany

ACHIEVEMENT: Strong growth in traffic and route development, backed by focused marketing.

Over the past couple of years, Munich International Airport has clearly achieved its ambition to secure a place among Europe's top 10 hubs. And the market-driven, customer-focused strategies, which helped it establish a place as Germany's second largest and fastest-growing hub, have continued to produce impressive growth over the last year.

Support for airline customers has included a range of joint marketing activities including mailshots, advertising and corporate hospitality. A recent example was the roadshow to promote African destinations, which visited five cities in the catchment area.

The airport's close partnership with main carrier Lufthansa and its partners, has helped raise transfer traffic to above 25% of passengers. The collaboration has even extended to a joint project to build the new terminal which is due to open in 2003 with capacity for 18 million passengers a year.

The judging panel said that, "in terms of sheer quality", the Munich's marketing performance was outstanding and its strategic business case well presented. The panel also noted that, rather than rely solely on Lufthansa, the airport had sought out new airline customers, such as low-cost carrier Go, and attracted a host of new destinations and frequencies.


HIGHLY COMMENDED - Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority

ACHIEVEMENT: Attracting new tourist routes, backed by detailed market research.

Annual analyses by the parent airports authority had shown a lack of non-stop services from its Washington Dulles airport to tourist destinations in Mexico and the Caribbean. After inclusive feedback from local travel businesses, the authority went direct to over 700 area residents to gain a clear picture of how they plan and book leisure travel. The results were fed back to the travel industry, helping to persuade United Airlines, BWIA and Cayman Airways to plan for the launch of new services. The judges were keen to see further evidence of this success as the initiative continues.

  HIGHLY COMMENDED - San Francisco International Airport

ACHIEVEMENT: Success in developing new international business, including lobbying efforts.

With a $2.4 billion upgrade programme in progress, San Francisco International (SFO) set up a new development department early in 1998 with the task of bringing additional international services into the airport - a task made more important by the economic turbulence in key Asian markets. The department set about building partnerships with carriers, local businesses and communities. It also lobbied government in presenting the case for the first non-stop services by a US carrier to Shanghai. That resulted in the award of five daily frequencies from SFO, which will be flown by United Airlines as of April 2000. Four new carriers have been brought into the airport over the last year, and traffic growth over the first half of 1999 was close to 6%. By 2006 SFO plans to handle 51 million passengers.


CATEGORY: International Airport GOLD AWARD: Baltimore/Washington International ,USA

ACHIEVEMENT: Mounting a concerted campaign to raise awareness of the airport among consumers in an overseas origin market.

Baltimore/Washington International (BWI) opened its international pier two years ago, with British Airways as its major carrier flying one-stop from London Gatwick. But subsequent research among a range of passengers and travel arrangers revealed a lack of awareness over the exact location of BWI. Most mistakenly thought that the airport was further from the centre of Washington DC than competing Dulles International.

In mid-1998 BWI set out to raise awareness, launching a $600,000 campaign targeted at the key UK market.

Meetings with the UK travel media were followed in October by the launch of a poster campaign on London taxis and the Underground, backed by television commercials including a series on CNN. The witty campaign pushed home the location message with images of aircraft and luggage arriving outside the US Capitol building.

The judges were impressed with the way that BWI had set out with a clear focus of what it wanted to achieve and was able to demonstrate clear results. Steady growth in BA's passenger traffic from London hit a high of nearly 20% in February.

Although the campaign submitted concentrated only on market and carrier, the judging panel noted that the airport was right in "playing to its strengths" and was looking to repeat the exercise in other markets.


HIGHLY COMMENDED - Bahrain International Airport

ACHIEVEMENT: Offering airlines tailored packages, including service concessions

In a heavily oversubscribed Middle East market, Bahrain International has attempted to secure growth through a strategy based on partnership with airline customers, local service providers and others, under the overall direction of the Civil Aviation Affairs department. Customised service packages, including block charge agreements have attracted carriers such as Cathay Pacific and British Airways, while DHL has also established regular freighter service to Europe thanks to concessions on handling and charge. The airport plans for 3.7 million passengers this year from a local base of only 500,000 travellers.


CATEGORY: Airline Business Award GOLD AWARD: Vienna International Airport

ACHIEVEMENT: Working with its major carrier to develop fast, efficient connections, including joint oversight of a new terminal project.

Europe's hubs may now be exploiting new commercial opportunities in travel and retail, but as the major carriers are keen to warn, the airports need to stay focussed on the fact that it is the incumbent airline that remains the primary customer. That is a message which Vienna International Airport has never forgotten, working closely with its national carrier Austrian Airlines to create a slick hubbing operation, which has benefited the airport and airline alike.

Austrian trades heavily on its minimum connection time of only 25min - arguably the best at any major hub in Europe and a figure of which rivals are starting to take close note. Such fast, efficient transfers have produced results, with growth for both Austrian and Vienna. This partnership, for example, has already helped to give Austrian the largest single hubbing operation through to Eastern Europe.

Overall transfer passenger traffic at the airport has grown by close to 35% over the past couple of years. And that growth has been led by the carriers within the Austrian Airlines Group which account for some 78% of connecting passengers.

The partnership has continued to develop with a project to build a new terminal due for completion in 2005. The new building will be the biggest project ever at the airport, creating a building some 2.5 times larger than the existing facilities. The challenge has been to ensure that the ability to offer fast and flexible transfers is not lost along the way.

Instead Vienna's approach has been to look at the project from the "inside out", starting with the customer requirements not with the splendour of the architecture. It has worked with Austrian from the start, co-chairing a series of working groups which led up to the selection of a design six months ago. Now a joint project group will oversee planning and construction. Airline Business felt that the airport and airline deserved recognition for the success of this strategic partnership.

  CATEGORY: The Marketing Communications Awards GOLD AWARD: Department of Civil Aviation, Abu Dhabi

ACHIEVEMENT: A clearly branded campaign to promote the new downtown City Terminal

On 21 June, the new City Terminal opened in Abu Dhabi, allowing executive travellers to check in at a lounge in the heart of the city before being taken by luxury coach to the airport. Branding needed to reflect themes of comfort and care, but the message also had to be fresh and simple to appeal to an international business audience.

The judging panel agreed that the campaign, based around the heart logo design and "Start at the Heart" message, achieved all of those goals with a simple but professionalism touch.



ACHIEVEMENT: A set of carefully chosen gifts which have got the young airport remembered.

Hahn Airport, opened just five years ago, positioning itself as an overspill freight centre for Frankfurt and more recently as a low-cost alternative passenger hub. The judges commended the entrepreneurial spirit and flair behind its marketing drive, especially a series of memorable and occasionally quirky gifts carefully chosen to fix the airport in the minds of potential airline customers around themes of location and cost.


HIGHLY COMMENDED - Bahrain International Airport

ACHIEVEMENT: A well-presented set of literature together with a lasting gift.

The judging panel commended Bahrain Airport for creating a set of marketing literature which was both attractive and useful - presenting a message that had been well thought through. The materials were also accompanied by a travel bag which the panel agreed would be kept and used by travel professionals.

Source: Airline Business