Airline Strategy Awards 2021


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.

Delta Air Lines chief executive Ed Bastian, winner of the 2021 Airline Strategy Award for Executive Leadership

Delta Air Lines and Breeze Airways chiefs among Airline Strategy Awards winners

Ed Bastian, the chief executive of Delta Air Lines, and David Neeleman, the founder of airlines including Breeze Airways, Azul, JetBlue Airways and WestJet, took the top honours at the 2021 Airline Strategy Awards on 27 September. 

The full list of 2021 winners, by category:

Executive Leadership: Ed Bastian, chief executive, Delta Air Lines

The Airline Business Award: David Neeleman

Sector Leadership: Pedro Heilbron, chief executive, Copa Airlines

Low-cost Leadership: Jozsef Varadi, chief executive, Wizz Air

Air-cargo Leadership: Tewolde GebreMariam, chief executive, Ethiopian Airlines

Business Innovation: AirAsia

Corporate Social Responsibility: Alaska Airlines