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Below are the categories for the 2019 awards

Please note award categories are subject to change

Executive Leadership

For the airline president/chief executive who has demonstrated outstanding strategic thinking and leadership over the past year.

The Award recognises the achievement of the individual executive, rather than the airline, based on areas such as:

  • Strong people/team leadership
  • Success in business transformation and restructuring
  • Establishing and executing against a clear corporate vision and strategy
  • Setting an innovative strategic direction with industry-wide implications

Particular note will be taken of achievements that have strategic lessons/application for the wider industry.

Sector Leadership

For the chief executive and management team demonstrating excellence leading a carrier providing strong transportation links within a market sector.

This category applies to all types of carriers - including scheduled, charter, passenger, cargo, and others - operating either independently or serving mainline network majors.

Low-Cost Leadership

For the chief executive and management team that have demonstrated excellence in leading a low-fare or ultra-low-fare carrier. This includes airlines that predominantly operate in one geographic region, offering low-fare, short-haul services and also the growing number of longer-haul operators that are adopting the (ultra) low-fare model.

Among the key criteria are market stimulation through low fares, maintaining a tight grip on costs and production integrity, and taking innovative approaches to growing ancillary revenue streams.

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For the management team that has demonstrated excellence in any aspect of airline finance over the past year. This includes, but is not restricted to, recognition for a wide variety of potential accomplishments including major financial transactions, mergers & acquisitions, innovative asset or corporate financing strategies, financial restructuring programs, and cost reduction initiatives. 

Achievements should demonstrate success in laying down and completing a sound financial plan, with note taken of broader implications for the industry as a whole.


For the management team that has demonstrated excellence in any aspect of airline marketing over the past year. This includes excellence and innovation in areas including, but not restricted to, marketing strategy, new product development, branding, digital marketing, advertising and promotion, customer relationship management, ancillary revenue generation, sales, and distribution.

Such recognition will focus on evidence of a focused and differentiated marketing strategy which has helped to strengthen or reshape a carrier's overall market positioning with strong commercial and financial results.

Digital Innovation

For the airline management team that has demonstrated innovation in the development and deployment of digital technology.

This includes recognising airlines making significant investment into identifying and cultivating ideas delivering innovation, and where their digital technology strategy is benefiting the passenger experience. Such recognition will focus on where the specific deployment of technology is having industry-wide implications.

Airline Business Award

This special award is made by Airline Business to recognise an individual making a lasting strategic contribution to the air transport business. Unlike the other awards, the final decision rests with the Airline Business team and represents recognition of strong leadership and strategic thinking.

Diversity in Leadership

This special award is made by Airline Business and Korn Ferry’s Civil Aviation Practice to recognise an airline organisation that has advanced diversity, in the broadest sense of the word, in its leadership. The winner is chosen based on achievement in areas such as increasing the diversity of a leadership team; promoting and advancing the careers of diverse leaders; and creating organisational conditions that contribute to attracting and retaining diverse leaders and professionals.