After the inauguration of the Sapphire Pegasus Award during a fabulous Gala Event in Prague, we sat down with Antonia Lukacinova to find out how it all came about. Antonia, the CEO of Media Tribune marketing communications agency is the brainchild of the Award and has worked tirelessly and determinedly to conceive this act and bring it to the stage.
Why a new Award?
For one, I was actively involved myself in business aviation in CEE region for quite a number of years. I have seen and experienced the exhaustive efforts that companies in this region had to make in order to achieve their targets, profitability, increase in fleets, and increase their customer base. Most of these companies were working with limited budgets that often prevented them from having their own marketing or communication team, or even just one person in charge of creating a presentation, a promotion, or a public relations campaign which was needed to compete in a global business environment. An international award could be a solution to recognize and demonstrate their accomplishments. I felt that it was important and about time to create a way to celebrate their success. Secondly, there still exists a gap between the West, where business aviation was developed from the early days on, and the East that entered the market much later. Companies from Central and Eastern European countries learned fast. To build up a company in 5-10 years with a fleet of 5-7 aircraft is an accomplishment. Yet, in the marketplace, one is compared with companies who have grown their business over a period of 20 or more years. I’m not saying that it is unfair, but one would should apply some relativity and appreciate the achievements. I felt that the Sapphire Pegasus Award could also be a fair chance for smaller or younger companies to prove themselves. Many of them are truly unique because of their scope of work, range of services, composition of professional teams, or other reasons. I strongly believe that there are many companies who are actually great, but on an international level one is just not aware of them. They do deserve a form of recognition for their outstanding performances. That is why I created the Sapphire Pegasus Award.
How did you select the Board of Advice and decide on the nomination procedures?
My aim is to provide an optimal way of objective judging. Therefore, the finale score of the winners is the result of the initial online public voting and those results were then combined with the votes of the Advisory Board judges. The Advisory Board was comprised of a team of business aviation experts from different segments of the industry. They had the final word in determining the Award winners. I invited judges from aviation associations as they are in close contact with aviation companies according to the regions that their organizations represent. They are often most aware of company and individual activities and performances in their region. Then, I also wanted to invite aviation professionals with insights from different perspectives. So, I decided for some media representatives who gather background intelligence and facts for their activities.
Why did you choose a limited geographical area? Will that be changed in the future? Will the event remain in Prague in the foreseeable future?
I believed that it was important to find relevant areas where one can compare the performances of different types of companies in a geographical area where these companies are mostly active. We all know that the USA is a completely different market with other characteristics. The Far East and especially China are very promising, so, I can envision that in the future we may also cover that region once we have more experiences with Chinese companies. Initially, I have considered other locations than just Prague. However, when comparing the benefits of several potential locations, I came to the conclusion that Prague is right for many reasons. I consider it the Heart of Europe with very good airline connections to a large number of destinations.
Why a special award for Russia?
Russia is a key market and in the focus of many companies. Many of them are exploring how to enter the market, do their business, establish their subsidiaries, or are looking for partners for cooperation. Many companies are confronted with problems to build a workable partnership in the Russian market. From my own experience of doing business with clients in Russia, one was often faced with obstacles by banks, insurance companies, and other parties. A major issue is the lack of proper communication and the understanding of different cultures. I believe that with the Sapphire Pegasus Award, we may bring together business parties from different markets and enable the creation of trustworthy relationships. It was one more reason to involve the RUBAA business aviation association. With a special Award for the Russian market, we wanted to create awareness and also present the outstanding performances of hard working teams, that are facing many different problems in day to day activities in comparison to Western companies. I wanted to show and prove that it is time to change the bias of many western companies that the Russian market and its businesses are unreliable. On the contrary, there are hardworking individuals and groups who do perform well and have great ideas, but often have to “fight against everything and everybody” to move their dreams forward.
Will there be additional awards in the future. What about scholarships?
We will indeed add some categories next year; we are always open for new ideas. This year we included “Social Media” because it is gaining importance as a communication tool and an award for that particular category is an encouragement for optimal applications. Scholarships were on our mind but is was just a bit too early since we were still in negotiations with companies. I’m sure we will offer that option soon since most companies are interested to support training for students and those starting a career in aviation.
Why did you name it the Sapphire Pegasus Award; why not gold? Why a flying horse and not an eagle?
For me Sapphire is the symbol of a blue sky. A blue sky means good conditions for flying. Thus, I feel that Sapphire represents a positive message. The blue sapphire is also one of the classic precious gemstones which was important for the award name; to keep it simple, It’s classic and symbolizing preciousness. The Blue Sapphire is actually also my favorite gemstone.
Is being a nominee already a mentionable recognition; just like being an Oscar nominee?
I believe it is. At the gala event every nominee has received a certificate that confirmed the nomination and category.
Now that the first Award Event has proven to be a tremendous success what do you expect in the future?
I will continue to work for close cooperation with the leaders of the industry. It should result in the support of start-up companies, educational developments, exchange of experiences between companies, bringing about new ventures and cooperation on international level, and opening the door for new business opportunities for companies. There is no doubt that the Sapphire Pegasus Award will become an institution of its own. Antonia Lukacinova should be commended for conceiving and realizing this new valuable asset to the business aviation industry. The next Sapphire Pegasus Award Ceremony will be held on May 5, 2017 in Prague.
2016 weren’t easy for airlines around the globe that continue to struggle with ways of finding pilots to fill cockpit seats. 2017 is expected to be an even more pressing year, as Boeing, Airbus and other manufacturers keep accelerating their production, while the already small pool of qualified FOs and PICs grows at a significantly slower pace....
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