AirAsia Group CEO Tony Fernandes has been named Airline CEO of the Year at the 2016 CAPA Aviation Awards for Excellence.
The award was presented to him at a gala dinner held at Hotel Okura here last night.
This is the third time Fernandes has won the accolade from influential aviation consultancy CAPA-Centre for Aviation. The first two times were in 2004 and 2005.
AirAsia Group CEO Tony Fernandes said, “AirAsia has come a long way since I won the first ever CAPA Airline Executive of the Year award in 2004. And in those 12 years, AirAsia has both changed and stayed the same. Back in 2004, the low-cost model was still something new to Asia. We had just embarked on our first two affiliates outside of Malaysia, in Thailand and Indonesia. We had 17 planes and 1,400 staff, and people were only starting to notice us.
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“Since then, we’ve grown into a truly Asean airline with operations in Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, Philippines, India, and soon, Japan, more than 200 aircraft and 17,000 Allstars. We’re the only airline that flies to all 10 Asean nations and, with Fly-Thru, we can connect the whole of Asia Pacific, from Japan, Korea and China to Australia and New Zealand to India and beyond, in just one stop.
We even fly as far as Mauritius now. So that’s what’s changed.
“What has stayed the same through the years is our unending commitment to quality and innovation and the dream that everyone can fly. This wonderful award is a testament to the fact that the dream is still very much alive, and we will continue to hold to this dream as we go into the next 12 years and beyond.”
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CAPA said Fernandes was selected for the award for successfully steering AirAsia to increased profitability and an improved outlook this year following an “extremely challenging” 2015.
It noted the new capital raised from the issuance of new shares, expansion of operations in China, the upcoming relaunch of AirAsia Japan and the formation of an aircraft leasing business which is expected to be spun off, raising more capital and reducing group leverage.
CAPA Executive Chairman Peter Harbison said, “AirAsia is back at the front of the pack in the challenging Asian market and Tony has once again shown why he is one of the industry’s leading executives. The original short-haul operations in Malaysia and Thailand are again among the most profitable airlines in Asia while Indonesia and Philippines are expected to be profitable again in H2 2016. AirAsia X is also back in the black following a restructuring.”
The CAPA Aviation Awards are regarded as the pre-eminent awards for strategic excellence in aviation.
Recipients are chosen by an independent international panel of judges to reward airlines and airports that are not only successful but also provide industry leadership in adjusting to a new environment.
Past winners of the Airline CEO of the Year award include Qantas Airways CEO Alan Joyce, Etihad Airways CEO James Hogan and Willie Walsh, CEO of IAG, the holding company for British Airways, Aer Lingus, Iberia and Vueling.