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Airlines take off with the top prizes at glitzy travel awards

forget the gloom -- there was plenty of glitz as the Irish travel industry's beautiful people celebrated the best operators in the business.

And last night's Irish Travel Trade News awards at the Burlington were every bit as glamorous as anything from the West End or Hollywood.

Aer Lingus, Etihad and Topflight were the big winners, bringing home two awards each.

Topflight won best long haul operator and ski tour operator; Etihad was voted long haul and premium class airline; and Aer Lingus won in the best airline to Europe vote and shared the North American category with United.

Royal Caribbean was named best three/four-star cruise line, while sister operator Celebrity won in the premium category.

The One Stop Touring Shop -- which handles Insight Vacations, Uniworld Boutique River Cruises and Contiki -- was the best niche operator.

Blue Insurances won the best entrepreneur prize, while Falcon was named best sun holiday tour operator.

Other winners included Irish Ferries, Bookabed.ie and the Spanish Tourist Board.


ITTN managing editor Ronan Flood admitted 2012 had been another difficult year for most involved in the travel industry.

But he added: "All of us here have survived and there are signs -- admittedly tentative -- that the worst is at least over, even though consumers' disposable incomes will continue to be under pressure. And who knows what may be in next week's Budget."