"--IANS/WAM"
Abu Dhabi, May 5 - Etihad Airways, the national airline of the United Arab Emirates -, has been named the Middle East's Leading Airline for the eighth consecutive year at the World Travel Awards Middle East.

The prestigious accolade was one of three awards won by Etihad Airways at a special gala ceremony Sunday night in Dubai. The airline was also named the Middle East's Leading Airline - First Class, and the Middle East's Leading Cabin Crew.

The World Travel Awards were established in 1993 to celebrate excellence in travel and tourism, with industry professionals and travel consumers voting for the winners.

Described by the Wall Street Journal as the Oscars of the travel industry, winners are initially selected at six regional ceremonies, including the Middle East event, followed by a year-end global finale.

The number of qualified votes for the World Travel Awards 2014 global programme is expected to be a significant increase on last year's tally, which was over 530,000, with 25 percent of this total originating from industry professionals and 75 percent from travel consumers.

James Hogan, Etihad Airways' president and chief executive officer, said: On the back of another milestone year for Etihad Airways, we are delighted that the travel and tourism industry has voted us the Middle East's Leading Airline, the Middle East's Leading Airline - First Class and the Middle East's Leading Cabin Crew at the 2014 World Travel Awards Middle East.

He said the awards were testament to our customer-centric approach, with guests placed at the heart of everything we did last year.

Our service enhancements in 2013, from the launch of our Flying Nanny service to the continued rollout of Wi-Fi internet and live television across our fleet, highlight a commitment to delivering best-in-class products and services, Hogan said.

Graham E. Cooke, World Travel Awards' president and founder, said: This is another fantastic achievement for Etihad Airways. Over the past decade the carrier has grown from a regional player into a global powerhouse and this achievement has again been recognised by the voters of World Travel Awards.

--IANS/WAM

ab/vt


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