AirAsia Group CEO Tony Fernandes received today the Orient Aviation Person of the Year for 2009 award for successfully leading AirAsia, which has in only eight years grown to become the world's best low-cost airline and Asia's largest.
Orient Aviation chief executive Barry Grindrod, in naming Tony the Orient Aviation Person of the Year, noted that Tony is the first individual whose airline is not affiliated with the Association of Asia Pacific Airlines to receive the award.
This is the 11th year that Orient Aviation, a globally-read Hong Kong-based aviation industry publication, has given the award.
Grindrod highlighted Tony's role in changing the face of aviation and benefiting travelers in the region.
"They [critics] said he wouldn't get the air rights, the business model would not work outside Malaysia, and that the major carriers would gobble up the fledgling carrier.? Today, there are many LCCs in the region, and AirAsia is leading the way.? Because of Tony and his hardworking team, there are tens of thousands of people flying for the first time. He has, quite literally, changed the way people live," Grindrod told media during the awarding event.
Tony has grown AirAsia into a world-class brand through innovative marketing that offers revolutionary low fares that come with premium products and services.? Working with the AirAsia slogan of Now everyone can fly, Tony has led the team in growing the airline, which has now flown more than 75 million guests and is linking cities across Asia Pacific.? The airline grew its fleet of two aircraft, one destination and staff of 250 to a fleet of approximately 82 aircraft, 113 routes to almost 60 destinations across Asia Pacific, and a staff of 6,500.
With AirAsia, travelers are able to enjoy great flight frequencies and a route network that spans across the ASEAN region (Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, Cambodia, Myanmar, Laos, Vietnam, Singapore, Brunei and the Philippines), Australia, China, India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.? Through low-cost long-haul affiliate AirAsia X, which Tony founded, AirAsia guests are also able to connect to more destinations in Australia and northern China and to Taiwan, UK and, by November 23, the UAE.
Grindrod also pointed out how legacy airlines have followed AirAsia's lead and entered the low-cost travel market.
"Because of his vision, flair and marketing skills, the legacy carriers have adopted the 'if you can't beat him, join him' approach.? Just look at how many have entered the LCC market themselves through subsidiary carriers," Grindrod added.Tony has entered business ventures aside from AirAsia.? Tony also leads Tune Group, which currently includes Tune Hotels, a no-frills hotel chain that offers "5-star beds at 1-star prices;" Tune Sports, which runs the ASEAN Basketball League; Tune Money, which caters to the financial needs of the underserved market at affordable prices; and Tune Talk, a mobile phone service that offers the lowest flat rate for calls.? Tune Group also has an investment in 1Malaysia F1 Team to support the 1Malaysia initiative and to provide an avenue for Malaysia to advance in the global sports scene.