Cathay Pacific has been named Airline of the Year in Auckland Airport's operation awards.

The airport has also named two inaugural inductees into a new Hall of Fame.

They are Air New Zealand's customer airline manager Cheryl Coldicutt and customs manager Peter Lewis.

Among other top awards, Air New Zealand was the best contributor to short-haul on-time performance on domestic, Pacific Islands and transtasman routes and Qatar Airways was the best contributor to long-haul routes over six hours long.

The safety leadership award went to the Civil Aviation Authority and the service provider of the year was SkyBus.


Cathay Pacific was recognised for its overall performance and continued development of its check-in kiosks, which judges said gave passengers more choice and made their journey through the airport easier.

Auckland Airport is served by more than 30 airlines and its general manager of operations, Anna Cassels-Brown, said the services provided by those airlines and operations partners helped to ensure travellers had a great experience.

''For more than 70 per cent of all international visitors to New Zealand, they play a vital role in visitors' first or last impressions of our country."

Auckland Airport operations awards

Airline of the Year: Cathay Pacific
Hall of Fame: Cheryl Coldicutt (Air NZ); Peter Lewis (Customs)
On time performance - short haul: Air NZ
On time performance - long haul: Qatar Airways
Safety leadership: Civil Aviation Authority
Service provider: SkyBus

Honourable mentions

Airline of the Year: Hawaiian Airlines; Air Chathams
On time performance - short haul Jetstar Airways
On time performance - long haul: American Airlines
Safety leadership: Qantas
Service provider: Customs, MPI

Cathay's first scheduled service between Hong Kong and New Zealand was a joint venture in November 1982 involving Cathay Pacific, Air Niugini and Air New Zealand. It is led here by Mark Pirihi, who has been with the airline for 28 years.

He said the award was ''very satisfying' and recognition of the work all the teams put in with stakeholders.

Cassels-Brown said Cathay stood out this year for its commitment to giving its customers choices on the ground and a quality experience in the air by introducing new self-check-in kiosks, its Airbus A350-900 aircraft on the Hong Kong route, as well as providing outstanding customer service throughout the year.


"Cathay Pacific is a world-class airline with a strong customer focus as is reflected in their personalised service at check-in counters and departures gates as well as commitment to leveraging technology to improve the customer's experience.''

The airline is restructuring its global operation in the face of tougher competition.

Over the next few years, it aims to add about 4 per cent capacity with new aircraft and reconfigured existing planes in its fleet of more than 200.

In July it took delivery of the first of 20 Airbus A350-1000s, a stretched version of the aircraft that flies here.

Qatar Airways flies what is still the longest route in the world between Auckland and Doha. Photo / Supplied
Qatar Airways flies what is still the longest route in the world between Auckland and Doha. Photo / Supplied

Cassels-Brown said the Hall of Fame awards were presented to individuals who have had a significant personal impact on the wider airport community. "We're thrilled to recognise Cheryl and Peter as the inaugural inductees. They are two exceptional individuals who have served their organisations and customers with great mana and pride for more than 15 years,'' she said.

''They have made a huge contribution to the success of Air New Zealand and New Zealand Customs respectively, as well as to the Auckland Airport community."

Qatar Airways — the long-haul on-time performance winner — flies the longest non-stop commercial route in the world between Auckland and Doha, and for more than a year has had to fly its way around a regional airspace blockade imposed by its neighbours near its home base.

The airline has grown rapidly around the world and has been flying here from Doha since early last year.

The 14,540km flight can take more than 18 hours, although it will be overtaken as the longest in mid-October when Singapore Airlines reinstates its direct flights to New York.

Air New Zealand is the airport's biggest customer and won the short-haul OTP category despite being hit by severe weather, especially during summer, which it has described as being some of the worst on record. Like all airlines serving Auckland, it was also confronted by the Refining New Zealand fuel pipeline crisis last September, when a digger is believed to have ruptured the aviation fuel link from Marsden Point to Auckland.

Air New Zealand was running on as little as 30 per cent of its usual supply on some days for more than a week.

The best service provider, SkyBus, has expanded its network to the North Shore, adding to its 24-hour, seven days a week Auckland CBD service. Early next year it will add six new buses – an investment of more than $3 million .

A highly commended airline, Air Chathams, committed to fill a gap left by Air New Zealand on the Kapiti-Auckland route and has just begun flights.

The other highly commended airline, Hawaiian, grew its operation from three to five times a week on the Auckland-Honolulu route, where fares have fallen since it started operating five years ago. It was also recognised for work in helping passengers work through more stringent United States Transport Safety Administration requirements.

Previous airline of the year winners have been Air New Zealand (twice), Fiji Airlines, China Southern Airlines, Qantas and Emirates.

• Grant Bradley was a guest judge on a seven-member panel in the airline of the year category.