Etihad Airways last night won the finance category of the Airline Strategy Awards, one of the industry’s most coveted awards.

The award, announced in front of the world’s leading airline figures at London ’s The Honourable Society of Lincoln’s Inn, recognised the strategic contribution the finance team has made to the success of Etihad Airways. The prestigious accolade adds to an already impressive trophy cabinet for the airline’s finance department, which has won a number of awards over the past five years in aviation finance and treasury from industry bodies and professional associations.

The award was accepted by James Rigney, Etihad Airways Chief Financial Officer, who said:

“Our expert team plays a key role in the business achieving its financial goals, most notably in beating Etihad Airways’ break even target in 2011 to record the airline’s first ever profit. This award is testament to the efficiency of the financial strategies put in place by the management team over many years.

“As we deliver our objective of sustained profitability, finance will continue to support the business through its innovative approach. Our robust financial planning and management will also help us to meet the airline’s ambitious business and financial goals.”

The Airline Strategy Awards, which were launched by the international magazine Airline Business, recognise excellence in boardroom leadership, covering a unique set of industry categories across leadership, marketing, environment, technology and finance. The awards are also designed to recognise the role that management talent plays in shaping future success for their airline.

Etihad Airways’ finance team has played an important part in supporting the rapid growth of the airline while developing strong financial planning, procurement, cost control and financial governance through the implementation of cost benchmarking, budgeting and budgetary controls. Strong relationships have also been built up with the global financial markets to support Etihad’s aircraft financing, treasury and hedging activities.

In what has been a volatile time in the global financial markets, the finance team has effectively managed the airline’s exposure to credit, foreign exchange, jet fuel and interest rate markets. They have also played a key role in Etihad Airways’ investments in other airlines such as airberlin, Air Seychelles, Aer Lingus and Virgin Australia and driven revenue and cost synergies with partner carriers.

James Hogan, Etihad Airways President and Chief Executive Officer, said: “We are now a fully integrated, international company and the finance department acts as an enabler for the rest of the business. Our goal is to achieve best in class service, deliver sustained profitability and most importantly meet the highest safety standards. Despite a challenging global economic environment, the work of our finance team has given us the foundation to meet that mandate.”

The announcement of the Airline Strategy Awards continues Etihad Airways’ success at the showpiece event, which saw it win the marketing award in 2008.

“We are thrilled to again be recognised in these prestigious awards. It is a strong endorsement of the hard work, dedication and commitment of all our staff who are the key to our success and have helped Etihad Airways grow into one of the world’s leading airlines,” Mr Hogan said.