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AirlineRatings.com the world’s foremost safety and product rating website has selected Air New Zealand as its 2017 Airline of the Year for the fourth consecutive year.Read: World’s Top Ten Airlines for 2017AirlineRatings.com celebrates and promotes excellence in the airline industry and the pinnacle of these efforts is its Airline Excellence Awards. Winners include: Etihad Airways, Virgin Australia, Emirates, Qantas, Singapore Airlines, Virgin Atlantic, Norwegian, Flybe, Garuda Indonesia, Scoot, Kulula.com, Virgin America and Delta Air Lines.Airline of the YearAir New Zealand is being honored for the fourth consecutive year for its record-breaking financial performance, award-winning in-flight innovations, operational safety, environmental leadership and motivation of its staff. These factors have stamped the airline as an industry trendsetter.The AirlineRatings.com Airline Excellence Awards program combines four major international industry and government audits, with another nine key criteria that include: fleet age, passenger review ratings, profitability, investment rating and key product offerings.AirlineRatings.com Editor-in-Chief Geoffrey Thomas said: “In our objective analysis Air New Zealand came out number one in virtually all of our audit criteria, which is an exceptional performance.”The editorial team, one of the world’s most awarded and experienced, lauded Air New Zealand’s commitment to a young fleet and its continual focus on the environment. The airline also won Best Premium Economy Class for the third time.Air New Zealand has been a leader in the airline industry for years and has won countless awards including Air Transport World’s Airline of the Year in 2010 and 2012.“Quite simply Air New Zealand is an airline of first choice. And given the airline’s location and the country’s size, its performance is even more remarkable,” said Mr Thomas.“This outstanding performance has seen Air New Zealand catapult to the top tier of the industry in a host of areas.”Air New Zealand Chief Executive Officer Christopher Luxon says being recognised once again by the industry is a real highlight for its people in a record year of performance.“The past 12 months have been exceptional for Air New Zealand – we’ve continued to invest in a streamlined and refurbished fleet, launched three new international routes and rolled out improvements to the customer experience with enhanced inflight entertainment and a multi-million dollar lounge redevelopment programme.“Above all, the award is testament to the talented team of people who make Air New Zealand great by putting customers at the heart of everything we do.”Read more about Air New Zealand’s offerings hereBest First ClassThis award has been won by Etihad Airways for the third year running because its First Class still leads the industry.“Etihad’s commitment to excellence appears to know no bounds. The airline’s new First Class and Business Class offerings are quite stunning and have set the bar even higher in luxury travel,” said Mr Thomas.“In what is an incredible achievement in just over 13 years Etihad Airways has stamped itself not only as a major force in the airline industry but a trendsetter.”Take a video stroll through Etihad’s exclusive First Class cabin.Best Business ClassThis year Virgin Australia has taken out this much sought after award with its “The Business” suite which is more First Class than Business Class. The major plus for this product is the bed with its triple-layer seat cushion supported by a hammock sub-frame which guarantees a really good sleep.There is also ample space for gadgets and shelf space to place one’s laptop while having dinner.Read more about Virgin Australia’s business class here;Best Premium EconomyAir New Zealand has won Best Premium Economy once again for its lead in this class. The airline is continually innovating in all cabins and this has resulted in higher yields as passengers upgrade their travel experience. “Air New Zealand has shown better than any other airline that passengers will pay more if the product is right and priced accordingly. Its efforts in this space are a lesson to all airlines that passengers want better and are prepared to pay.”Best EconomySingapore Airlines picks up Best Economy Class. The airline has always been a leader in the economy class product going back to the 1960s when as Malaysia-Singapore Airlines it introduced free headsets and free drinks to economy passengers. And the innovation has never stopped with the airline amongst the first to offer seat back videos to economy passengers in the early 1990sRead Geoffrey Thomas’ review of Singapore Airlines’ service here; https://www.airlineratings.com/editors-travel-reviews/3/singapore-airlinesBest Cabin CrewBest Cabin Crew award has been won by Virgin Group airlines – Virgin Australia, Virgin Atlantic and Virgin America.“These airlines’ cabin crew treat every passenger whether in row 1 or at the back of the bus as a special guest,” said Mr. Thomas. “Their commitment to their passengers is outstanding and is a benchmark of what cabin service should be.”Best CateringQantas has taken out this award for the third year running on the back of the airline’s domestic offering which is the world’s best. Its commitment not only to premium dining, but to economy travel which makes up 90 per cent of passengers is well ahead of the pack.The airline has introduced an unprecedented four choices of main meal for economy passengers, a doubling in the size of meals, and the ability to order online ahead of the flight.“Qantas’s catering commitment to both its domestic and international passengers is industry leading,” said Mr. ThomasBest LoungesAnother win for Qantas. Its lounges have become an Australian air travel institution and Qantas’ overseas offerings are also an industry benchmark. Qantas Lounges not only provide complimentary food and beverages the airline was a leader in installing showers. Importantly the airline’s lounges have robust broadband internet access that can handle demand – something lacking in many other airlines’ lounges. “The Qantas Lounge is the place to be for the savvy traveler,” said Mr Thomas.Best In-Flight EntertainmentEmirates, which was one of the pioneers of IFE, wins AirlineRatings.com Best IFE award. The airline has an IFE product that few airlines equal. Airlineratings.com editors noted that Emirates was one of the first adopters, particularly for economy class. By 1993 all the airline’s seats were fitted with IFE.Emirates ICE has a host of features. It allows you to follow the progress of your flight, or take in the view from the aircraft’s external cameras. You can keep in touch with live business, news and sport headlines. As a communication tool it provides phone, SMS or email capability. For entertainment there are 600 channels of premium entertainment.Best Domestic ClassIn an era where domestic offerings are becoming leaner Qantas’s domestic in-flight product is a global standout and in many cases, matches or exceeds international service.“There is little doubt Australians are the world’s most spoilt passengers with full meal service on all flights across its network, said Mr Thomas.Qantas offers complimentary beer and wine between capital cities after 4pm on weekdays and on transcontinental flights from lunch time daily. The airline has recently completed the rollout of its lie-flat beds on its A330 fleet which perform most of the transcontinental services.Best Long Haul AirlineAirlineRatings.com Best Long Haul Airline awards have been won by: Etihad (Middle East/Africa), Singapore Airlines (Asia/Pacific), Virgin Atlantic (Europe) and Delta Airline Lines (The Americas).These four airlines in their regions set the benchmark. “Etihad Airways is the new kid on the block and is challenging the product leadership of Singapore Airlines, while Virgin Atlantic and Delta Air Lines both have rich histories in pioneering long haul travel and new aircraft designs.”Best Low Cost AirlineThere is no question that the Low Cost Airline market is the most competitive and also the most rapidly growing. Thus competition to be the best is a challenge of balancing product with low prices.AirlineRatings.com winners are: Virgin America (The Americas), Scoot (Asia/Pacific), Kulula.com (Africa/ Middle-East) and Norwegian (Europe). The four airlines are leaders in their markets with innovations and they are consistently delivering an excellent value proposition. “These airlines may not always offer the lowest fare but what they almost always do is deliver by far the best value,” said Mr Thomas. And these airlines open new routes and bring travel to millions who could previously not afford to fly.Read our Scoot in-flight review here;Read our Norwegian in-flight review here;Read our Virgin America in-flight review here;Regional Airline of the YearUK based Flybe has taken out this award for delivering a first-class experience on regional routes around the UK and Europe.The airline operates more UK domestic flights than any other airline and flies 7 million passengers a year on 149 routes, from 62 destinations in 9 countries. Its hubs are Manchester, Birmingham, Paris, Dublin, Amsterdam and Exeter.Airlineratings.com editorial team was impressed by Flybe’s innovation that has resulted in exceptional performance in customer service, product and new route development.Read our review of Flybe here;Most Improved AirlineThis has been won by Garuda Indonesia in recognition of the dramatic turnaround by the country’s national carrier.Over the past five years the airline has made enormous strides to improve its in-flight product, operational and fiscal performance.It has renewed its entire fleet, been approved for European and US operations and is now considered a world class operation.AirlineRatings.com editors were unanimous in their praise of the professionalism of Garuda Indonesia’s operation and the speed of the airline’s turnaround.Read glowing passenger reviews of Garuda here;
Don’t miss out on the latest news and information. MOST READ Sports Related Videospowered by AdSparcRead Next “This should be the start because it would be a waste of effort if we don’t capitalize on it,” said Tiamzon. “And I think we finally had the confidence and it’s like this was the first time that we won since last conference.” LOOK: Jane De Leon meets fellow ‘Darna’ Marian Rivera Robredo: True leaders perform well despite having ‘uninspiring’ boss PLAY LIST 02:49Robredo: True leaders perform well despite having ‘uninspiring’ boss02:42PH underwater hockey team aims to make waves in SEA Games01:44Philippines marks anniversary of massacre with calls for justice01:19Fire erupts in Barangay Tatalon in Quezon City01:07Trump talks impeachment while meeting NCAA athletes02:49World-class track facilities installed at NCC for SEA Games Ethel Booba on hotel’s clarification that ‘kikiam’ is ‘chicken sausage’: ‘Kung di pa pansinin, baka isipin nila ok lang’ Lacson: SEA Games fund put in foundation like ‘Napoles case’ Pagasa: Kammuri now a typhoon, may enter PAR by weekend PVL: BanKo Perlas snaps skid, stops Adamson LATEST STORIES And Tiamzon paid instant dividends with a team-high 14 points in their four-set win over Adamson University, 25-18, 25-16, 21-25, 25-21, in the Premier Volleyball League Open Conference.“I guess I’ve been put into the game a little more frequent now and I’m exposed to the game more and to the situation itself,” said Tiamzon as they won their first match in three outings.FEATURED STORIESSPORTSSEA Games: Biñan football stadium stands out in preparedness, completionSPORTSPrivate companies step in to help SEA Games hostingSPORTSWin or don’t eat: the Philippines’ poverty-driven, world-beating pool starsTiamzon was absent in the Perlas Spikers’ first game in the conference and when she returned just in time for their second match she rode the bench the whole time.And now that BanKo Perlas was able to win its first game, Tiamzon hopes they can build off from their victory and improve for the rest of the eliminations. Pagasa: Storm intensifies as it nears PAR Another vape smoker nabbed in Lucena Tristan Tamayo/INQUIRER.netNicole Tiamzon has had a diminished role as an attacker with BanKo Perlas with other spikers like Ella De Jesus, Amy Ahomiro, and Amanda Villanueva in the lineup.On Sunday, however, the former University of the Philippines stalwart had the opportunity to start the game.ADVERTISEMENT El Nido residents told to vacate beach homes China furious as Trump signs bills in support of Hong Kong View comments
Trump signs bills in support of Hong Kong protesters “I told the father (and coach Emerson Obiena) we’re thinking of the long term here. We have the Asian Games, the Olympics and World Championships. SEA Games gold is good but if he aggravates his injury we don’t want it,” said Juico.READ: PH gold medal bet Obiena injures ACL, out of SEA GamesFEATURED STORIESSPORTSSEA Games: Biñan football stadium stands out in preparedness, completionSPORTSPrivate companies step in to help SEA Games hostingSPORTSBoxers Pacquiao, Petecio torchbearers for SEA Games openingThe 22-year-old, 6-foot-2 Obiena hurt his ACL and was even reported by Juico as needing surgery last Friday, one day before the team departed for this city.But Juico said EJ and his father insisted that the young pole vaulter is healthy enough to hunt for a gold in the event where he bagged a silver two years ago in Singapore. NATO’s aging eye in the sky to get a last overhaul SEA Games: PH stays unscathed at 2-0 in ice hockey Obiena, who has been training in Formia, Italy, has a personal best of 5.61 meters, which is deemed good for the SEA Games gold medal.The standing SEA Games record is only 5.30 meters.Sports Related Videospowered by AdSparcRead Next Trending Articles PLAY LIST 00:50Trending Articles02:49World-class track facilities installed at NCC for SEA Games03:07PH billiards team upbeat about gold medal chances in SEA Games05:25PH boxing team determined to deliver gold medals for PH03:04Filipino athletes share their expectations for 2019 SEA Games00:45Onyok Velasco see bright future for PH boxing in Olympics02:25PH women’s volleyball team motivated to deliver in front of hometown crowd01:27Filipino athletes get grand send-off ahead of SEA Games00:36Manny Pacquiao part of 2019 SEA Games opening ceremony Hotel says PH coach apologized for ‘kikiam for breakfast’ claim EJ Obiena has broken the national record 14 times and, at 21, looks very capable of raising the bar well beyond the 5.55 meters he achieved in a recent athletics meet in Singapore (photo).KUALA LUMPUR—Ernest John Obiena is set to compete in pole vault on Thursday despite fears that he injured his left ACL last week during training in Manila.This was confirmed by athletics chief Philip Ella Juico, who said Obiena will fly here in the morning just in time for the event in the afternoon at Bukit Jalil National Stadium.ADVERTISEMENT Robredo should’ve resigned as drug czar after lack of trust issue – Panelo View comments Don’t miss out on the latest news and information. Lacson: SEA Games fund put in foundation like ‘Napoles case’ MOST READ Pagasa: Storm intensifies as it nears PAR LATEST STORIES Celebrity chef Gary Rhodes dies at 59 with wife by his side Ethel Booba on hotel’s clarification that ‘kikiam’ is ‘chicken sausage’: ‘Kung di pa pansinin, baka isipin nila ok lang’
Once every four years a great gloom overtakes Middle India. Out there on some foreign field, rich countries and poor ones, renowned sporting powers and others you couldn’t locate on a world map, are collecting medals at the Olympic Games, the most significant global sporting stage of them all.Making up,Once every four years a great gloom overtakes Middle India. Out there on some foreign field, rich countries and poor ones, renowned sporting powers and others you couldn’t locate on a world map, are collecting medals at the Olympic Games, the most significant global sporting stage of them all.Making up the numbersIndians are enthusiastic participants, with large contingents of athletes and officials for global games. They add colour to opening ceremonies but do not bring the weight of their numbers to bear on the medals tally. Surinam has an individual gold medal in swimming, Ethiopia and Mozambique produce athletes of distinction, Thailand won as many individual medals in a single Olympics as independent India has in its entire history. Let’s not delude ourselves: despite the huge haul at the Manchester Commonwealth Games, India continues to remain a fringe player in world sport.For most part it does not seem to matter – as long as there’s cricket on television – but when the world’s finest athletes gather for the Olympics, the truth comes home. Only then is the Indian’s sense of self challenged and that tired question asked: why can’t one billion people win gold?During the Sydney Olympics, the Australian Bureau of Statisticscalculated that the country with the best performance at the Games wasnot the United States with 97 medals, but Barbados with its singlebronze – because sprinter Obadele Thompson’s 100m bronze was a medalearned by a nation with a population of 2,70,000. The worst performer by that count? India.You could crunch numbers a littledifferently. In truth, India does not have one billion candidates forathletic excellence. What it has is one billion mouths to feed. With 26per cent of the country living below the poverty line, there are 740million people who form the population base from where athletes can befound. Half of those are women, not actively encouraged to take part insport. Even when they decide to, support from family and society iswavering. So, more accurately, India is a country of around 300 millionwho cannot win gold. advertisementTainted awardsWhen the country’s highest award for sport, the Arjuna Award, is turned into a system of favour-trading and hand-outs, it’s time to call for change Truth is a tricky customer, it spots and slips through smokescreens.Just before the 1996 Olympics, two American researchers predicted howmany medals participating nations would win based on their real GDP.Their predictions turned out to be accurate, except even here-operatingagainst a low target of three medals predicted by the study – India wonjust one bronze. In 2000 the exercise was repeated and again worked forthe statisticians but not the Indians. Any which way you calculateOlympic performances – GDP, GNP, per capita income – India fails toweigh in again.It’s not only easy to blame the system. It’s imperative. Internationalsport is not a level-playing field, it is a jungle where survivalbelongs to not just the fittest but the best-prepared. The athlete whois not identified by the time he is in his early teens and taken underthe wing of a modern training programme, has already lost time andprecious medals.When they say the era of the amateur is over, it includes the athlete as well as the entire support structure around him. It is here that Indiafails.It begins with the lack of a culture for sport that surrounds a child: a shortage of playgrounds and facilities is the least of it. In India,school-level sport is not a starting point for talent-scouting as it isin countries as diverse as the United States and China. It’s just a gapin the time-table from the world of books. SUCCEEDING IN SPORTS Professionalise sport by restructuring its administration. The system of “honorary” officialdom is clearly outdated: running sport is a full-time business. Hand it over to private enterprise. Have the politicians and bureaucrats make way for management experts who will take care of fund-raising and managing money. All aspects of sport must be under the charge of qualified ex-athletes who will be paid for their expertise. Channel and prioritise spending on sport. Funding and attention should be extended to those sports which show sustained progress over a five-year period, starting now. Progress will mean a steady improvement in world rankings. There is no sense in putting a country’s energies into sports where India only makes up the numbers and brings up the rear in world. It’s not the Government, nor is it private enterprise that can run sport. There is only one institution that has the infrastructure, the tradition and the culture of discipline needed to make champions. The armed forces. It’s time to hand over athletes’ training to the military. It’s time to accept that India is not an Olympic power. Withdrawing from Olympic competition in disciplines where we are not in the world’s top 10 may work. India needs to focus on the Asiad and other world events to get good enough to contend for medals at the highest level. Opt for a more democratic model for sport. Concentrate on developing a culture for sport. Access to sport for all should be the first step, by setting up cheap, accessible sports centres in cities and villages with a network of talent-spotters. Quality will come from numbers.For the middle class, with access to sports clubs and reasonable facilities, it’s merely khel-kood, a trivial pursuit. For the rich, it’s just another diversion you wouldn’t want to take seriously because, seriously, only the yokels do. Sport in India is one way out of poverty – the reasons our young men and women take to sport is not to set the fields of the world alight, but to keep their home fires burning.advertisementIndian sport also works as a welfare state; the average athlete knows that and sets his or her sights low. The state is the patron, the benefactor which can provide an athlete a job in the public sector. Once that is sealed it is the rare athlete that wants to let go of that safety net and pursue athletic excellence.An unknown Ghanaian who plays in Delhi’s local leagues made an observation once: “In Ghana, footballers from the smallest clubs talk about playing in Europe, for Juventus, Inter Milan. In India, they talk of getting a job.” If the athlete’s reach and his grasp have very little to separate them, then who would aim for heaven?This is a peculiar kind of contentment, one that eats away at the soul of aspiration; but it is arrived at only after the athlete’s will is gnawed into once he has dealt with the establishment and the world of feudalism, intrigue and compromise.The administration of Indian sport is two-pronged: the Ministry of Sport, served through its monster-child, the Sports Authority of India (SAI), and the national federations that run individual disciplines. It’s a circus made up of politicians, bureaucrats and career sports administrators, the latter belonging to either one of the first two categories.Once elected to office in a sporting federation – where the voting process involves allegations of bribes, arm-twisting tactics and intimidation – power is not easily relinquished. An Indian succeeds not just because of hard training , but because the gods have decided his federation has a well-meaning set of officials who know what to do with their elite athletes and how to plan their careers.The reason India won only a single medal at Sydney in women’s weightlifting, a discipline in which it had dominated world competition before the sport made its Olympic debut in 2000, was corrupt officials, poor planning, favouritism and biased selection. The same officials, selectors and coaches are still in charge. By now the most dedicated and deserving lifters would have got the message: toe their line or else. Indian hockey could be a metaphor for Indian sport itself, so badly has it slipped-and been allowed to slip-from public consciousness.advertisementTopsy turvyLike the wrestler in this photograph, the Indian athlete can be thrown about-by officialdom. His career is dependent not on his skill but on the quality of officials, mostly unaccountable, who run his sport. Such anarchy exists in a vacuum of leadership and vision. Government control over sport is restricted to the functioning of the SAI, the running of sports hostels across the country and the clearance of special funding and teams for overseas competition; not to areas like keeping an eye on federation elections and a scrutiny of accounts. Moving sport to the Concurrent List will give the Government those rights but its own track record is poor. Poor, in fact, says it all.The national sports budget totals Rs 150 crore, of which the SAI receives Rs 104 crore for maintenance of existing infrastructure, salaries and assorted projects. The outlay for the creation of new infrastructure, promotion of sport in schools and colleges and installation of artificial surfaces does not total more than Rs 16 crore a year. The structures that exist are in a state of disrepair or disuse. When the centre cannot hold, things will keep falling apart.Nothing epitomised the decay in Indian sport as the Arjuna Awards controversy which proved that the prestigious national awards in sport had been turned into a programme of compromised hand-outs. In the list of 2001, India’s greatest male runner, Milkha Singh, was named alongside a sacked hockey coach, a gymnast with no international competition on her CV and an athlete with one half-marathon victory to her name.There will always be two schools of thought on the approach that India must take to sport: whether to concentrate on spending big on putting up stadia and hosting multi-discipline meets and spreading excitement and a buzz around sports, or whether to strengthen the framework on which such grand dreams must essentially rest. Whether to build up the grassroots base from where the numbers will come or to pump money into training a select band of athletes from disciplines that show progress internationally.Ground realitiesThere is a pattern with Indian stadia. Just before a major event, crores of rupees are spent to upgrade the venue, after which maintenance is never a priority, as is evident from the astroturf at this Uttar Pradesh ground. When Indian athletes do well, as the Manchester medallists will testify, administrators, officials and people in politics jostle with each other to organise felicitations and shower them with cash. Everyone likes being fussed over but the more circumspect athlete will say that had they received all that funding and even half that support during training, they could have been slightly better performers. In a world where nano-seconds and millimetres separate a medallist and just another loser, “slightly” embraces a universe. What does Indian sport need more: the Afro-Asian Games (which will cost more than Rs 100 crore) and another set of world-class sports stadia we struggle to maintain once the Games are gone? Or a foolproof, corruption-proof, red-tape-proof programme of nurturing elite athletes and making champions? Champions are the only catalysts that can cause an explosion of interest and enthusiasm around their sport.The 1983 World Cup victory put cricket in a different universe compared to other Indian sports, a universe it still does not share with any other discipline. The burgeoning of chess talent in India has been attributed to the global success of one man, Viswanathan Anand. If India seeks sporting excellence, it will have to rid its establishment of the mediocrity that defines it.