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Singapore Airlines and Changi International Airport win top awards at CAPA's Awards for Excellence

Singapore Airlines was named the winner of the prestigious Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation (CAPA) Airline of the Year Award for 2008 at a gala reception in Singapore this evening. The Gala Awards Ceremony was held as part of this year's fifth annual Asia Aviation Outlook summit, showcasing airline and airport CEOs from around the Asia Pacific and Middle East regions.

Awarded to the airline that has had the greatest impact on the development of the airline industry in the region, establishing itself as a leader, and the benchmark for others to follow, Singapore Airlines' (SIA) outstanding year was highlighted by the flawless introduction of the new A380 - for which SIA was once again the forward looking launch customer - and strong earnings amid considerable adversity.

"Singapore Airlines has made aviation history with the entry into service of the world's largest ever commercial aircraft, the A380. Once again, Singapore Airlines has taken leadership in efficiency and service standards to new levels, setting a benchmark for others to follow. The airline is to be commended for the outstanding success of its inaugural A380 flight in which not only over S$1.9 million was raised for worthwhile causes, but airline industry's reputation as a whole was enhanced", said Peter Harbison, Executive Chairman of the Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation.

Other winners included:

Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore accepted the award for Changi International Airport, named the CAPA International Airport of the Year.

"Changi Airport has had yet another outstanding year, handling an array of new services and challenges with aplomb - from high turnaround LCC services to a growing fleet of Singapore Airlines' double-decker A380s. The new Terminal 3 at Changi is a world leader in terms of service standards, cost efficiency and revenue effectiveness. Changi's expertise is being exported to the world ad the upcoming corporatisation of the airport will further sharpen Changi's responsiveness to opportunities in the market", said Mr Harbison.

Jetstar Airways CEO, Bruce Buchanan, accepted the award as the CAPA Low Cost Airline of the Year - the second year in a row Jetstar has achieved this honour.

"Jetstar is demonstrated yet again its value to the Qantas Group in the past 12 months. Not only did Jetstar contribute handsomely to the Group's record profitability, it has provided the Group's new CEO in Allan Joyce. Given the challenges it has faced due to B787 delays, Jetstar's focus to expand short-haul domestic and international flying (including a ground-breaking new venture in Vietnam) demonstrates the flexibility and nimbleness that are the hallmarks of world leading LCC", said Mr Harbison.

The Hon. Anthony Albanese, Minister for Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Local Government of Australia was recognised as the CAPA Aviation Minister of the Year.

Mr Harbison stated, "Mr Albanese has breathed new life and vigour into the Australian Transport portfolio, addressing numerous policy challenges and forging ahead with the liberalisation of aviation within a short space of time. Australia's aviation policy review, to be completed early next year, will set the direction for aviation in the country over the coming decades. By taking the initiative from day one, he has clearly demonstrated leadership in the Transport portfolio which is crucial to Australia's prosperity".

Mr Tim Clark, Chairman and CEO of Emirates, accepted the CAPA Aviation Executive of the Year.

"Our Executive of the Year has established a corporate vision centred around the positioning of a premium brand for the Middle East reaching all corners of the world. Mr Clark has been an outstanding ambassador for Middle East aviation, leading its development as an international powerhouse that has made an indelible impact on the industry", said Mr Harbison.

Japan Airlines was awarded the CAPA Airline Turnaround of the Year.

According to the CAPA's Harbison, "the entire Japan Airlines team, under the outstanding leadership of Mr Haruka Nishimatsu, is to be commended on its transition to a strong and profitable airline in the face of significant industry and economic challenges. Japan Airlines is successfully adapting to rapid industry change and is well positioned to prosper as Japan's aviation progressively opens in the years to come".

Beijing Capital International Airport received the Award for the New Airport Development of the Year for 2008.

Mr Harbison noted, "Beijing's excellent new facilities, spearheaded by its world-leading Terminal 3 facility, and its partnership with airlines and authorities helped deliver outstanding transportation outcomes during the Beijing Olympics and Paralympics Games. The transfer of airlines between terminals and entry into service of the new Terminal 3 was seamless".

The CAPA New Airline of the Year was awarded to AirAsia X.

The Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation is pleased to acknowledge the impact AirAsia X has had on the aviation industry - with just one aircraft. As 25 new high capacity A330s join the AirAsia X fleet, the carrier's impact will be considerable - shaking up markets and creating new ones. AirAsia X is offering a pure low-cost, long-haul model that, amid a market downturn, is well positioned to thrive - and prove the doubters wrong", said Peter Harbison, Executive Chairman of the Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation.

Gold Coast Airport Ltd received the CAPA Low Cost Airport of the Year, for the second year running.

"Gold Coast Airport continues to lead by example. While in fierce competition with its near neighbour at Brisbane Airport, it has the strategy, brand, facilities and approach to soar in this new aviation environment. It has certainly done that in the past year, attracting and supporting a range of new international and domestic services, highlighted by new links to Kuala Lumpur, Japan, Fiji, New Zealand and more to come - an impressive achievement", said Mr Harbison.

Lim Kim Hai, CEO of Regional Express (REX), accepted the CAPA Regional Airline of the Year, also for the second year running.

Mr Harbison stated, "Regional Express has overcome numerous challenges again in the past 12 months, including new competitive threats and soaring fuel prices. As always, Lim Kim Hai and his management team has met these challenges with a prudent strategy. The carrier continues to display a superb commitment to regional areas in Australia, in markets which have previously proven extremely difficult to service profitably and efficiently".

Dato' Seri Bashir Ahmad, Managing Director of Malaysia Airports Holdings Bhd joined the Centre's Hall of Fame, when he accepted the CAPA Legend's Award, joining Ray Webster (fmr Chief Executive Officer of easyJet), Dr Cheong Choong Kong (fmr Deputy Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Singapore Airlines) and Maurice Flanagan (Vice Chairman, Emirates Airline).

"This award honours a lifetime of strategic leadership, innovation and influence in the aviation industry. Over several decades, he has had a quiet but massive influence in all sectors of Malaysia's aviation development, in what has been a remarkable period of aviation development and reform. Under Dato' Bashir's leadership and vision, KLIA has had an outstanding recent history. It is a regional leader in the low cost sector, which is driving millions in investment and tourism expenditure into the country. Malaysia's ascendant influence on Asian aviation will change the structure of the industry in years to come", said Mr Harbison.