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Virgin Blue Takes Top Airline Honours At AFTA Awards: Best National Airline And Best Regional Airline

10/07/2006

Virgin Blue is flying high after taking out the two top airline awards at the AFTA (Australian Federation of Travel Agents) National Travel Industry Awards.


The glittering annual event was held in Melbourne over the weekend and recognised the leading companies from a range of travel sectors including airlines, hotels, travel agents, car rental companies and wholesalers.


Virgin Blue was nominated for the first time in two categories, Best Airline Regional and Best Airline National, two categories traditionally dominated by Qantas. In a surprise upset that could rival Italy’s soccer world cup win, Virgin Blue was named winner of both categories.


The dual awards come at a time when Virgin Blue is evolving from a Low Cost Carrier to a New World Carrier which balances the high quality products and services offered by legacy carriers, such as corporate lounge facilities and a frequent flyer program “Velocity”, with the low cost base of the LCC model.


The finalists are nominated by travel agents who then vote for their favourite out of the shortlist based on personal experience in their dealings with the company from both their own and their clients (the traveller’s) perspective. The award criteria is based around a combination of factors including customer service, product and innovation.


Virgin Blue’s General Manager, Sales, Mathias Friess, accepted both awards on behalf of the Virgin Blue team.


“It is an absolute honour to have taken out not one, but two awards in our first year as a nominee and it’s a true reflection of the commitment of our people to make the Virgin Blue experience a good one for both our Guests as well as travel agents”, he said.


He continued, “Virgin Blue and its travel industry sales team values its strong working relationship with industry as we strive for the mutual goal of stimulating tourism.”


AFTA Chief Executive, Mike Hatton said, “This is the first year Virgin Blue has been nominated as a finalist in the awards and to take out both National Airline and Regional Airline awards is a great achievement for an airline that is obviously doing something very right.”


Virgin Blue’s strategy of introducing high quality, low fare jet aircraft services to regional Australian ports traditionally services by turbo prop aircraft continues to prove its merit. Its regional route network is growing as are tourism numbers to regional destinations. Virgin Blue currently offers convenient low cost flights to 15 regional ports including Coffs Harbour, Ballina, Launceston, Mackay, Rockhampton, Cairns, Gold Coast, Maroochydore and Hervey Bay to name a few.


Other big winners at the AFTA awards were Virgin Blue’s Velocity partner, Emirates Airlines for Best International Carrier and Accor for Best Hotel/Resort Group.