16 July 2023, LONDON: Alaska Airlines’ Ben Minicucci, Pegasus’ Guliz Ozturk and Singapore Airlines’ Goh Choon Phong were among those recognised at this year’s Airline Strategy Awards, alongside former American Airlines chief executive Doug Parker.

The awards – which have been held since 2002 – recognise individuals, airlines and companies supporting air transport that have demonstrated dynamic leadership and clear vision.

The other individual winners on the night were Atlas Air’s respective former and current chief executives John Dietrich and Michael Steen, JetSmart chief executive Estuardo Ortiz, and Airlink chief executive Rodger Foster. Airline awards went to Air New Zealand and Volaris for ESG and digital leadership respectively.

“While the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic will be felt by airlines for some time yet, the variety of stories behind this year’s award recipients reflects the extent to which the industry has moved beyond crisis mode,” says Graham Dunn, executive editor at FlightGlobal and host of The Airline Strategy Awards.

“With more space to shine in the normalising environment, the industry’s impressive leadership talent provides reason for optimism that strategic opportunities can be seized upon and that short- and long-term challenges can be overcome.”

Minicucci’s leadership of Alaska Air Group is a success story that touches many of the industry’s biggest themes – all from an airline that is up against formidable opponents in the shape of the US majors.

“Minicucci has been delivering what judges agreed is an impressive update to the group’s strategy, demonstrating a strong understanding of operational excellence, labour relations and fleet optimisation in particular, while continuing to take industry-leading positions in areas such as sustainability and workforce diversity,” says Airline Business editor Lewis Harper.

Under the leadership of Ozturk, a pioneer among female leaders in the country’s aviation sector, Turkish low-cost carrier Pegasus has been a standout performer in Europe over the past 12 months.

“Judges were impressed that a record financial performance in 2022 was delivered through an ongoing programme of flexible capacity management, competitive pricing, ancillary revenue growth, cost-control, strong digitisation efforts and operational efficiency,” says Harper.

“That impressive performance has continued into 2023, as Pegasus grows its fleet and expands its international network into Europe and the Middle East.”

Singapore Airlines emerged confidently from the Covid-19 crisis, retaining its status as a leading light in the region under the leadership of Goh.

“That reflects important moves made by Goh to ensure Singapore Airlines kept its workforce plentiful and on an operational footing, ready for countries to open their borders again,” says Harper.

“More than that, however, judges were impressed that Goh still took the opportunity to transform the business during the pandemic downturn, ensuring it has emerged as a more nimble, resilient and diversified company.”

Parker received the prestigious Airline Business Award in recognition of his work to shape the modern, consolidated and more resilient US airline industry of today.

Full citations for each winner are available on the Airline Strategy Awards website.

The full list of 2023 winners, by category, were:

Executive Leadership: North America Ben Minicucci, Alaska Air

Executive Leadership: Europe Guliz Ozturk, Pegasus

Executive Leadership: Asia-Pacific Go Choon Phong, Singapore Airlines

Executive Leadership: Latin America & Caribbean Estuardo Ortiz, JetSmart

Executive Leadership: Africa & Middle East Rodger Foster, Airlink

Air-Cargo Leadership John Dietrich and Michael Steen, Atlas Air

Digital Leadership Volaris

ESG Leadership Air New Zealand

The Airline Business Award Doug Parker

The Airline Strategy Awards event is organised by FlightGlobal in partnership with the civil aviation practice of Korn Ferry, the largest human-capital solutions provider in the world. The recipients in eight award categories – Executive Leadership in Asia-Pacific, Europe, North America, Latin America & Caribbean and Middle East & Africa, plus Air-Cargo, Digital and ESG Leadership – are selected by an independent panel of industry experts, following a nominations process overseen by FlightGlobal’s Airline Business and Korn Ferry. Airline Business also presents its own award, recognising an individual making a lasting strategic contribution to the industry. For more about the judges, visit flightglobal.com/strategyawards.com

Collins Aerosapce is a platinum sponsor of the awards, while category sponsors include CFM International, Cirium, SmartKargo, Tampa International Airport and Volantio.

About Airline Business:

As the premier title for airline boardrooms worldwide, Airline Business covers the key strategic and business issues in the air transport industry. It was established in 1985 and has editorial teams in London, Washington DC and Singapore. Aside from four print and digital publications per year, Airline Business also produces a weekly newsletter, a regular podcast and data snapshots for FlightGlobal Premium.

About FlightGlobal

FlightGlobal provides information, news, conferences and recruitment to help people and businesses to learn more, network and grow in the aviation industry. With 110 years of aviation publishing, FlightGlobal is one of the industry’s leading news sources, including respected brands FlightGlobal Premium, Airline Business, Flight International, aviation event dailies and flightglobal.com. A conferences and webinar programme within the FlightGlobal portfolio addresses key market issues and questions in aviation, and FlightJobs supports individuals throughout their career and enables organisations to find the best aviation talent. FlightGlobal has been owned by DVV Media International since mid-2019.

About Korn Ferry:

Korn Ferry is a global organizational consulting firm. It works with clients to design their organisational structures, roles and responsibilities. Korn Ferry helps them hire the right people and advise them on how to reward, develop and motivate their workforce. And, it helps professionals navigate and advance their careers. Korn Ferry’s colleagues serve clients in more than 50 countries across five core solutions: Organizational Strategy; Assessment and Succession; Talent Acquisition; Leadership Development; and Rewards and Benefits.


Lewis Harper