AirAsia CEO is Forbes Asia's 2010 Businessman of the Year

Posted at 12/03/10 1:59 PM

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) - Forbes Asia magazine has named Tony Fernandes, the chief executive officer of Malaysia's AirAsia Group, as its 2010 Businessman of the Year.

The 46-year-old Fernandes took over the ailing company in 2001 and relaunched it as a budget no-frills airline, with the tagline "Now everyone can fly."

AirAsia was one of the first budget airlines to launch flights from the Diosdado Macapagal International Airport in Clark airfield in Pampanga to Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia. 

Prior to joining AirAsia, Fernandes was vice president of Warner Music South East Asia. He was actively involved in developing the Malaysian music industry, and received various recognitions for his contributions.

Now, AirAsia has become the region's largest low-cost carrier, with nearly 8,000 employees, 100 planes and 140 routes.

The company's first-half net income grew 24% to $1.31 million, while revenues of its publicly listed parent, AirAsia Bhd., saw a growth of 18% to $526 million.

While AirAsia popularized no-frills flights in the region, this business model has been successful in Europe and Northern America.

In Asia, Gokongwei-led local airline Cebu Pacific was the first to attempt to adopt the business model, but went full blast only in 2005.

By then, AirAsia has established itself as a major regional player in the budget airline sector.