Congratulations to all our 2015 winners - please click below to see the full citations
Alex Cruz, Chairman and chief executive, Vueling
Many have tried, most have failed. Indeed, only Vueling can convincingly lay claim to having made the in-house low-cost carrier model work in Europe.
Alex Cruz has been the Spanish carrier’s guide throughout – from the formative stages when he consulted on Iberia’s plans to create a budget unit, through the creation of Clickair in 2006 and the ensuing Barcelona budget battle which ultimately led to the merger with Vueling. After consolidating, the combined carrier has since expanded beyond Spain and, most recently, become a fully-owned member of Iberia parent IAG.
Aditya Ghosh, President, IndiGo
Aditya Ghosh has transformed IndiGo into India’s largest airline by market share since taking the helm as president in 2008 – and he’s done such a great job running India’s foremost low-cost carrier that he is the first leader to be recognised twice in the same category with the same airline. “It’s a pretty compelling number one for me,” said one judge. “Since we recognised IndiGo in 2011, there has been a complete clean-out in the Indian market. He’s survived and he’s won.”
Christoph Mueller, Chief executive, Aer Lingus
When IAG had its third offer conditionally accepted by Aer Lingus’ board earlier this year, it underlined the journey the Irish operator has taken from crisis carrier to sought-after airline. By the time IAG secured Irish government support for the deal, the architect of Aer Lingus’ recovery, Christoph Mueller, had already moved on to the next challenge – a seemingly even more arduous challenge in turning around Malaysia Airines. Given the challenge facing Aer Lingus when he took the helm, his new employers will doubtless be hoping Mueller can repeat the trick in Kuala Lumpur.
Willie Walsh, Chief executive, International Airlines Group
It has been a busy six months for Willie Walsh. International Airlines Group, which Walsh leads as chief executive, has undergone some defining moments in its evolution from legacy cluster to powerful global player. Hot on the heels of IAG’s bid for Aer Lingus at the end of 2014 came news that Qatar Airways had acquired an almost 10% stake in the airline group, which owns British Airways, Iberia and Vueling.
Few treasurers will face the daunting task of managing the balance sheet of a major carrier through the midst of the world’s largest airline merger.
That is exactly what the finance team at American Airlines, led by chief financial officer Derek Kerr and treasurer Tom Weir, did after the merger of American and US Airways closed in December 2013 – managing a multibillion dollar balance sheet through a period of turbulence as dozens of new aircraft arrived; all while keeping Wall Street happy.
Brazilian low-cost carrier Gol has spent the last four years developing an alternative fuels strategy it hopes will provide for 1% of its total fuel requirement by 2016.
The carrier believes that alternative fuels are key to the sustainable growth of aviation in the future, and is investing considerable time and resources into eventually making their use more widespread. In the words of one of the judges: “Gol seems set on taking the trials a bit further than others.”
When Virgin America fought to win two gates at Dallas Love Field airport in 2014, it enlisted the help of Virgin founder Sir Richard Branson himself to back a viral online campaign that had social media buzzing. Branson, starring in a YouTube video titled “An Open Love Letter to Love Field”, made a play for the support of the Dallas community. “No one should have a monopoly on your love,” Branson coos in his love letter to the airport in the video. “It’s time to let our love take flight, no matter how hard they try to keep us apart.”