The Airline Strategy Awards are unique in the air-transport industry, launched by Airline Business to recognise excellence in boardroom leadership.
First held in 2002, as the industry struggled to emerge from a crisis caused by 9/11 and wider economic factors, the Airline Strategy Awards recognise the crucial role that management talent plays in shaping future success.
Today, management teams are being tested to the limit by a far greater crisis, as the Covid-19 pandemic continues to devastate international markets and create unprecedented financial challenges.
Last year, amid the early stages of the crisis, we took a break from the usual awards format and instead held the Decade of Airline Excellence Awards, which recognised strong stories from commercial aviation’s boom decade.
The Airline Strategy Awards are back in 2021, for the event’s 20th anniversary. And in 2021, more than ever, the skillful leadership of airlines matters. As usual, the awards are open to any senior executives, or airline teams, that have demonstrated excellence in setting out strategies during the crisis and, where possible during such difficult times, seeing them through to success.
This is an invite-only event, held on 27 September 2021.
Nominations open in June 2021, further details coming soon.
For the airline president/chief executive who has demonstrated outstanding strategic thinking and leadership during the Covid-19 crisis.
The award recognises the achievement of the individual executive, rather than the airline, based on areas such as:
For the chief executive or management team demonstrating excellence leading a carrier providing strong transportation links within a market sector during the Covid-19 crisis.
This category applies to all types of carriers – including scheduled, charter, passenger and others – operating either independently or serving mainline network majors.
For the chief executive or management team that have demonstrated excellence in leading a low-cost or ultra-low-cost carrier during the Covid-19 crisis.
This includes airlines that predominantly operate in one geographic region, offering low-fare, short-haul services and also longer-haul operators that are adopting the (ultra) low-cost model.
Among the key criteria are innovations to ensure the business survives the crisis, whether they be through cost-control, revenue-generation, financing measures or strategic rethinks.
For the chief executive or management team that have demonstrated excellence in leading a cargo carrier or cargo business unit during the Covid-19 crisis.
This category applies to all types of air-cargo carriers and businesses – including scheduled, charter, ACMI/wet-lease and integrator, whether they are operating independently, as a dedicated air-cargo business, or as a freight division of a passenger airline group.
Among the key criteria are business performance, network strategy, innovative thinking during the crisis.
For an airline of any business model or size that demonstrates true business innovation during this time of crisis. Such business innovation could be exhibited by the airline’s actions through any or some combination of the following, or others similar or relevant initiatives:
For an airline of any business model or size that demonstrates an unwavering commitment to corporate social responsibility throughout this time of crisis, even “doubling down” on such commitment when it could have been expedient to reduce its focus on this area in the face of survival. Such commitment could be exhibited by the airline’s actions through any or some combination of the following, or others similar or relevant areas:
Montie Brewer was chief executive of Air Canada between December 2004 and April 2009. Prior to Air Canada, he was senior vice-president planning at United Airlines. He has also held senior positions at Northwest Airlines, Republic Airlines, Braniff and TWA. He currently serves on the boards of Allegiant Travel Company, Finnair and Radixx International, and was formerly on the boards of Swiss and Aer Lingus.
Chris Browne joined the airline management board at EasyJet as chief operating officer on 1 October 2016, where she was responsible for all operational departments, before retiring in 2019. Chris had previously been appointed as a non-executive director on the EasyJet Board on 1 January 2016. She is also a non-executive director of Bovis Homes.
Christina Cassotis has been chief executive at Allegheny County Airport Authority in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, since January 2015. She has also been a director of S&T Bank since 2017. Prior to joining the airport authority, Cassotis worked for consultancy ICF SH&E where she held various positions including managing officer for airport services. Previous she was deputy director of communications at Massachusetts Port Authority. She holds an MBA from the MIT Sloan School of Management and a BA from the University of Massachusetts
Alex de Gunten is the business development officer of HEICO Aerospace Corp, based in Miami. From 2003 to 2013 he served as Executive Director of the Latin American and Caribbean Air Transport Association (ALTA), which he was instrumental in relaunching. De Gunten has also served in senior positions at Orbitz, LanChile (LATAM) and Canadian Airlines (Air Canada).
Rigas Doganis advises governments and airlines on air transport policy. Former head of the air transport department at Cranfield University. He was Chairman/CEO of Olympic Airways in the mid-1990s, implementing a major restructuring. Has sat on the board of South African Airways and spent nine years on the EasyJet board. He chairs the European Aviation Club in Brussels and is the author of “Flying Off Course - airline economics and marketing” (2019)
Chris Tarry established independent consultancy and advisory business CTAIRA in 2002, providing advice to clients across the industry. Prior to that, he was one of the most highly rated aviation analysts during his near 20-year period in the London market. He writes a monthly column in Flight Airline Business and lectures at a number of universities including Coventry University where he has a visiting professorship, besides chairing, moderating and presenting at conferences around the world.