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Emirates named CAPA Airline of the Year for 2005 Indian Minister and Ray Webster honoured

(KUALA LUMPUR: 05 December 2005) Emirates has capped a highly successful year in which it recorded strong profit growth amid a rapid expansion of its international network by winning the Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation’s (CAPA) Airline of the Year Award for 2005.

At a gala dinner attended by 200 guests at Menara Tower, Kuala Lumpur tonight, Emirates was named by The Centre as the airline having the greatest impact on the development of Asia Pacific aviation in 2005.

The award was presented by The Centre’s Executive Chairman, Peter Harbison, to Emirates' Senior Vice President Commercial Operations East Asia and Australasia, Richard Vaughan. Mr Harbison had earlier delivered the aviation outlook address at the Asia Pacific & Middle East Aviation Outlook Summit 2006 at The Westin, Kuala Lumpur. The summit, with 350 delegates and media in attendance, continues tomorrow.

Emirates’ achievements in the past year have been extraordinary, as one of the most profitable and fastest growing airlines in the world. Emirates’ influence on competitor airline strategy continues to increase, as it aggressively enters new markets and expands others and demonstrates leadership in high quality passenger service. Emirates is at the forefront of the Middle East region’s spectacular rise as a global aviation powerhouse. The region’s momentum will continue to build as Emirates takes delivery of over 130 new aircraft currently on order. The CAPA Airline of the Year for 2005 is certain to have a lasting and irreversible impact on the evolution of the worldwide aviation and tourism industries”, said Mr Harbison.

In other CAPA aviation awards:

The CAPA Aviation Minister of the Year: Indian Civil Aviation Ministry, Shri Praful Patel. This award honours the Asia Pacific national government minister who contributed most to the progress of aviation in the region, Mr Patel has demonstrated leadership in aviation liberalisation, with far reaching consequences for the global aviation market. In 2005, his government signed an open skies agreement with the US and signed liberalised bilaterals with the UK, Germany, France, China, Singapore, Qatar, Canada and others. Mr Patel announced a USD8-10 billion airport modernisation programme, progressed fleet and IPO plans for Indian Airlines and Air India and supported the growth of domestic low cost carrier entrants. The award will be collected on behalf of Mr Patel by H.E. Mr R.L. Narayan, High Commissioner of India.

The CAPA Aviation Executive of the Year: Tony Fernandes, CEO of AirAsia. This award honours the aviation executive who has had the greatest individual influence on the Asia Pacific aviation industry. Mr Fernandes leads an airline that continues to set benchmarks in the region and beyond in terms of efficiency and productivity and has navigated successfully through one of the most challenging periods in the history of commercial aviation to grow profits and achieve a successful share float. In the latest quarter, the carrier was one of only a handful to report double digit revenue and net profit growth and it remains on track to report stronger earnings results in this financial year than the last. The award will be presented by Tony Fernandes.

The CAPA Airline Turnaround of the Year: All Nippon Airways. This award honours the airline whose affairs were most significantly transformed for the better during the year. All Nippon Airways has successfully implemented a turnaround in its fortunes, including a wide-ranging restructuring programme. The carrier returned to profit in 2003/04 and resumed dividend payments to shareholders for the first time in seven years and in 2004/05 recorded its first profitable operations on international routes since commencing them 19 years ago. ANA’s decision to become the launch customer of the Boeing 787 Dreamliner is part of the simplification and upgrade of its fleet. The award will be presented to Totsumu Ohta, ANA’s Chief Researcher.

The CAPA Cargo Airline of the Year: Dragonair. This award honours the airline which has had the greatest impact on the development of the Asia Pacific air cargo industry. Dragonair has only been operating dedicated freight services since May 2000, but has quickly and methodically expanded the operation to encompass six dedicated freighters and the unit now accounts for over 40% of total revenue. Growth has been built on the phenomenal rise in China's trade with its partners worldwide and prudent network and capacity decisions. Significantly, the carrier this year launched dedicated freight services to the US (New York) – its 11th all-cargo destination. The carrier is scheduled to start taking delivery of five converted B747-400 freighters from late 2006 to 2008, to bolster its position in international markets and expand its presence in China. The award will be presented to Albert Yau, Dragonair’s General Manager Cargo.

The CAPA Airport of the Year: Beijing Capital International Airport. This award honours the airport which has done most to advance the progress of Asia Pacific aviation during 2005. Beijing Capital has reported exceptional results amid a major transformation and expansion. In the first half of 2005, the airport reported a 17.3% rise in net profit to almost USD50 million, on a 13.7% rise in revenue. The airport has also implemented innovative new franchises of its non-aeronautical business this year, to improve efficiency and enhance earnings. After a strong recovery in 2004 after SARS, rapid traffic growth has continued in 2005, with the airport expected to handle over 40 million passengers for the first time – rivaling the key Asia Pacific hubs. Massive expansion is planned, including a new Terminal 3 and other upgrades in preparation for the Olympic Games in 2008.

The CAPA New Airport of the Year: Centrair International Airport. This award honours the new airport that has had the most significant impact in the market in which it has entered and to the development of aviation in the region. Since it opened on 17-Feb-05, this new airport has been operating smoothly, handling just under 2 million international and 2.7 million domestic passengers by the end of Jun-05 – quickly establishing it as Japan’s third largest international airport. The airport company reported a net profit of USD15 million in the six months ended 30-Sep-05 and reports that revenues for the period were some USD9 million above initial estimates, driven by increased leisure and business traffic. The award will be presented to Mr Katsuhiko Aso, Vice President Sales & Marketing and Member of Centrair International Airport’s Board Directors.

The CAPA New Airline of the Year: Kingfisher Airlines. This award honours the start-up airline that has had the most significant impact in the markets they operate and to the development of aviation in the region. Kingfisher Airlines burst onto the aviation scene in 2005, both in India and abroad. Commencing services in May-05, Kingfisher has quickly added new routes and now operates seven A320s. The airline has brought a new standard of inflight service to India attuned to the increasingly affluent and globalised Indian consumer. The carrier has also announced plans for an IPO and has even put in a bid to acquire 100% of rival, Air Sahara, the New Delhi-based carrier. Kingfisher is expanding its fleet to 11 A320s by Jan-06. But the headlines really started to flow Jun-05 with its order for 15 widebody Airbus aircraft and an option for 20 more, followed last month with orders for 30 more A319s and A320s and 20 ATR72-500s. The carrier’s fleet plan shows its intention to be a major player in India’s long haul, domestic and secondary regional markets. The award will be presented to Dr Vijay Mallya, the Chairman & Managing Director of Kingfisher Airlines.

Legends Award, Hall of Fame: Ray Webster, former CEO, easyJet. This award honours strategic leadership, innovation and influence in the aviation industry. CEO for ten years of a company that has changed the way people think about travel, the inaugural inductee to the CAPA Hall of Fame, Ray Webster, has built an airline that carries 30 million passengers a year. A former Air New Zealand executive for 28 years, Ray has left easyJet in a strong position, last month unveiling a better than expected rise in profits and a strong outlook for 2006. The award will be presented to Ray Webster.

The CAPA Low Cost Airline of the Year: Jetstar. This award honours the low cost airline which has been most innovative and influential in the Asia Pacific airline industry. Jetstar has had an extraordinary impact in a highly competitive domestic market, and its presence has significantly raised the barriers to entry into that market. The carrier has introduced an innovative, extremely low cost operating model, which has helped its parent and Group to maintain and expand its share of less profitable leisure routes, as well as providing an expansion vehicle for international markets – most lately, New Zealand. The carrier has consistently lowered its unit costs, which are expected to fall further as the carrier transitions to an all-A320 fleet in 2006. The award will be presented to Simon Westaway, Jetstar’s Corporate Relations Manager.