Air New Zealand named airline of the year

Air New Zealand has been named Airline of the Year in the Air Transport World magazine awards.

Judges said the airline won for its commitment to safety and operational excellence and groundbreaking customer service that combined passenger-friendly check-in technologies with caring staff.

Air New Zealand had also maintained a "sterling financial performance" during one of the most turbulent periods in aviation history while also leading the way in environmental initiatives, including making the world's first flight using a sustainable biofuel.

Chief executive Rob Fyfe and a delegation of 10 top-performing staff are due to collect the award in Singapore on February 1. Recent winners include Korean airline Asiana last year, Singapore Airlines, Cathay Pacific and Qantas.

Mr Fyfe said the judges appeared to be impressed by the authentic Kiwi can-do style of service compared to the "McDonald's" approach common among other airlines.

They also seemed to be "amazed and surprised at the degree of innovation that was occurring at a remote relatively small airline on the edge of the world".

He said New Zealand success at the America's Cup and the recent attempt to send a rocket into space may also have played a part. "Somehow they felt they had stumbled into a place that was quite unique and quite special in terms of the people, their enthusiasm and ingenuity."

The Dominion Post/