Posted on Wednesday 21 January 2015 by Ulster Business

VA Launch Pic 1

Aer Lingus Business Development Manager Andrea Hunter and Ulster Business editor David Elliott launch the seventh annual Aer Lingus Viscount Awards, in association with Ulster Business, at the Houses of Parliment in Westminster

Aer Lingus, in association with Ulster Business, announce the opening for submissions to the 2015 Viscount Awards at the House of Commons where the awards ceremony will be held on the 21st April 21 to celebrate the return of the event for the seventh consecutive year. 

The 2015 Awards will recognise and promote excellence, best practice and innovation in the Northern Irish business community and will celebrate those companies which have also made significant progress in global export markets.

Andrea Hunter, Business Development Manager at Aer Lingus NI, said: “Over 120 entries were received for the 2014 awards from an impressive array of small, medium and large companies representing a variety of industries and sectors. This year we are welcoming entries from companies across the province again and we are eager to evaluate their quality submissions.

“We essentially want to see entries from those firms no matter how large or small that have broken into new markets by applying better solutions that meet new requirements, unarticulated demands, or existing market needs.

“We are encouraged by the strong foundations and entrepreneurial leadership that businesses here enjoy, with strong business people at the helm, who are genuinely innovating in the way they do business. Accordingly we consider the Viscount Awards as the perfect platform for these local companies to showcase their capability and expertise.

“Despite the challenging economy, our business from George Best Belfast City airport is strong, profitable and sustainable. Traffic from Belfast to Heathrow and Gatwick is increasing month on month and we have expanded our Gatwick route capacity by 20% this winter. What is clear to us is that NI business owners certainly have the drive and ambition to expand and explore new territories for growth,” she said.

“Aer Lingus as a company has always taken on competitive challenges and appreciates the opportunities of an export driven economy. It is important to encourage this approach in order to generate continued economic wealth in Northern Ireland and we will support this any way we can.

From March, business travellers flying from Dublin airport on our transatlantic services will benefit from the new business-class offering, including the introduction of 200 new high-tech, luxury full lie-flat beds to the fleet of A330 aircraft, high speed Wi-Fi and the ability to pre-clear U.S. customs in Dublin airport, meaning you arrive before you depart.

We have also introduced a new route to Washington beginning on 1st May 2015, expanded capacity on transatlantic routes to San Francisco with a daily flight, three flights a day to New York and four flights per week to Orlando,” Ms Hunter explained.

Entries are now being sought across seven categories including; Most Innovative Company; Best Large Business; Best Medium Business; Best Small Business; Entrepreneur of the Year; Exporter of the Year and the Aer Lingus Viscount Award for Overall Excellence.

It was reiterated by the airline’s Northern Ireland representative that irrespective of the individual categories the key benchmark the judges will be looking for will be an innovative approach to the development of business opportunities in their sector.

Every business that enters the competition will be appraised by a seven strong panel of judges comprising Andrea Hunter, Aer Lingus Business Development Manager in Northern Ireland; David Elliott, Editor of Ulster Business; Jeremy Fitch, Executive Director, Business Solutions Group at Invest NI; Colin Walsh, Chairman of CBI in Northern Ireland; Richard Sherriff, Business Editor of the News Letter; Gary McDonald, Business Editor of the Irish News and Alan Taylor, Managing Partner at Arthur Cox.

The Awards lunch will take place on Tuesday 21st April in the exquisite surroundings of the Members’ Dining Room at the House of Commons, Westminster.

For more information or to enter please visit


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