ST. PETERSBURG, FL. (May 21, 2014) – Copa Airlines CEO Pedro Heilbron was today announced as this year’s Tony Jannus Award recipient at a press conference held at Tampa International Airport’s newly refurbished Tony Jannus exhibit. Heilbron will be presented the award at a dinner banquet held in his honor at the historic Renaissance Vinoy on October 30, 2014.
Dedicated to honoring exceptional leaders in the aviation community, the Tony Jannus Society chose Heilbron as the recipient for this prestigious award due to his outstanding achievements in the aviation industry. Since joining Copa Airlines in 1988, Heilbron has led the airline to become one of the most successful in Latin America.
Operating from the Hub of the Americas in Panama, Copa Airlines and Copa Airlines Colombia are leading Latin American providers of passenger and cargo services. As of summer 2014, Copa will fly to 69 destinations in 30 countries in North, Central and South America and the Caribbean, including 10 U.S. destinations. Copa has one of the youngest and most modern fleets in the industry and its on-time performance of almost 90 percent is the industry-recognized best in America. A member of Star Alliance, the leading global airline network, Copa received Skytrax awards for “Best Airline and “Best Cabin and Airport Crew” in Central America and the Caribbean in 2013.
“Copa Airlines is very pleased to join the ranks of the distinguished leaders in the field of aviation who have received the prestigious Jannus Award,” said Pedro Heilbron, Copa CEO. “This award is for Copa’s more than 8,000 dedicated coworkers throughout the Americas who work diligently every day to provide a first-rate travel experience, and to run an efficient and reliable airline that contributes to the growth of international commerce.”
In December 2013, Copa Airlines began a new nonstop flight between Tampa International Airport and Copa’s Hub of the Americas, with connecting service throughout Latin America. The four-time weekly flights represent the first direct airline service between Tampa and Latin America; Tampa is Copa’s ninth U.S. destination. In fact, Copa offers more direct nonstop flights to Florida than any other Latin American airline, with service to Tampa, Miami, Orlando and Fort Lauderdale (as of July 2014).
“We are very proud of this recognition of our CEO, Pedro Heilbron. On behalf of the entire Copa team, we thank him for his continuous leadership, example and motivation,” said Fernando Fondevila, Regional Manager for North America, Copa Airlines. “Under his guidance, Copa has continued to grow and strengthen its recognized position in the region; sustain the Hub of the Americas’ as the most successful hub for travel to, from and within Latin America; and provide passengers with world-class service.”
“We’re thrilled to see Mr. Heilbron receive this great honor, as he is truly an innovative leader in the industry,” said Chris Minner, VP of Marketing at Tampa International Airport. “His decision to partner with Tampa International Airport and create this new link between Tampa and Latin America is already having a profound effect on the Tampa Bay area’s regional economy and tourism industry and creates easy business and family connections for our passengers from both sides.”
“With more than 20 years of dedication and service, Mr. Heilbron has proven to be an innovator in the Latin American aviation industry,” said Bill McGrew, 2014 Co-chair. “The society is proud to acknowledge Mr. Heilbron’s achievements with the 51st Tony Jannus Award.”
About the Tony Jannus Award: Since its first nominee in 1964, the Tony Jannus list of winners has grown to a virtual “Who’s Who” in the industry, including such luminaries as Brigadier General Charles Yeager, Donald W. Douglas, Sr., Capt. Edward V. Rickenbacker, astronaut Frank Borman, Herb Kelleher, Sir Richard Branson, Joseph Leonard, Colleen Barrett, and Larry Kellner of Continental Airlines.
About the Tony Jannus Distinguished Aviation Society: The Tampa and St. Petersburg Chambers of Commerce established The Tony Jannus Distinguished Aviation Society in 1964. The Smithsonian Institute recognizes the St. Petersburg-Tampa Airboat Line as the world’s first airline. Tony Jannus was its chief pilot. In addition to the Tony Jannus Award, the Tony Jannus Distinguished Aviation Society recognizes outstanding local middle and high school students participating in an annual aviation essay contest and presents cash awards to deserving university students as part of the Society’s Scholars Awards Program.For more information on the Tony Jannus Distinguished Aviation Society visit www.TonyJannus.org