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March 9th 2011

Flybe’s Chairman receives elite US Laureate AND British Hall of Fame recognition in one week

A company from over here, that’s doing very well over there!

Jim French CBE, Flybe’s Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Flybe, Europe’s largest regional airline and the UK’s Number One Domestic carrier, has this week received top industry recognition from both sides of the Atlantic, being awarded both Aviation Week’s* prestigious Commercial Air Transport Laureate and one of only four recipients to be inducted into this year’s British Travel Industry Hall of Fame.

Both honours are reserved for an elite group of outstanding leaders in recognition of their extraordinary achievements in global aviation. In joining the exclusive and illustrious group of industry luminaries, Mr French became the first British recipient in a decade to scoop the US Laureate award, the last being Virgin boss, Sir Richard Branson; and one of only four nominees to join the BTI Hall of Fame this year.

Hundreds of individuals from the world of aviation are put forward for the Aviation Week Laureates, considered as both the ‘World Series’ and ‘Academy Awards’ of the industry carrying with them unmatched prestige. Winners were announced last night during the 54th Annual Laureate Awards dinner in Washington D.C.  It was noted there was ‘stiff competition in the Commercial Air Transport category’, it being ‘an already mature market filled with established brand carriers and aggressive low-fare rivals’…. ‘but (he) Jim French managed to not only build a successful business, but expand it as well. The airline pulled off a successful initial public offering, setting the state for further growth this year’.

British Travel Industry Hall of Fame inductees are nominated by a committee which comprises senior industry leaders, sponsor representatives and selected existing members of the Hall of Fame that include the Founders of Orient –Express Hotels, Thomas Cook and P&O Cruises and  the Chairmen and CEOs of VisitBritain, TUI AG, Bath Travel, British Airways and Hilton.  Trade associations and other industry bodies are also actively encouraged to suggest new members readers of one of the country’s leading travel publications are also canvassed for suggestions.

Mark Chown, Deputy Chairman of Flybe says: "We have been absolutely thrilled to hear that Jim has been honoured with not just one, but two, top industry awards this week – and from both sides of the pond, too! The awards affirm unreservedly that Jim is an exceptional leader. He thoroughly deserves these elite accolades and both are testament to his having been instrumental in building Flybe as an innovative and profitable airline,  and in being one of the most respected people in aviation. On behalf of all of his friends and colleagues in the industry, I extend our warmest congratulations to him.”

Mr French joined Jersey European Airways (as Flybe was prior to 2001) in 1991 as Commercial Director and shortly after was appointed Deputy Chief Executive and Chief Operating Officer.

In June 2001 he was appointed Managing Director and was challenged with turning the company around in order for it to survive. Faced with fierce competition from the emergence of low cost travel, further compounded by the aftermath of September 11th, he set about transforming the company into a leading and highly successful business model.

Jim has transformed Flybe from a traditional legacy carrier into Europe’s largest regional airline. He was appointed Chairman of Flybe in April 2005 and Chief Executive Officer in November 2005 and last year saw the company floated successfully on the London Stock Exchange.

He comments: "This is a truly great honour for me and no one has been more surprised to receive the news this week than myself. I am very proud to have been involved in regional aviation for so many years and particularly of leading Flybe that is a great airline, with great staff and the best management team in the industry.”