Forbes Asia names Tony Fernandes Businessman of the Year

Updated: 2010-12-03 14:17


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SINGAPORE -- Forbes Asia magazine on Friday named Tony Fernandes, the pioneering chief executive officer of AirAsia Group, as its 2010 Businessman of the Year.

The 46-year old charismatic Malaysian, a former record company executive, took over Malaysia's then-ailing AirAsia in 2001 and relaunched it as a no-frills airline.

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AirAsia has now become the region largest low-cost carrier, with nearly 8,000 employees, 100 planes and 140 routes -- including 40 that no airline had served before.

Its Malaysia-listed parent company, AirAsia Bhd., saw first- half revenue grow 18 percent year-on-year to US$562 million.

Fernandes describes his vision as "serving the underserved." He remarks, "Generally Asia is about being the biggest, the best, the swankiest, the tallest, the richest. This is where Asian businesses have missed out. The cream is in the 65 million other people who don't have a chance to fly, who don't have credit cards or insurance. I always saw the masses."

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