Thursday, May 20, 2010
Fernandes receives Nikkei Asia Prize
In a statement, AirAsia said the prize, given by leading Japanese newspaper publisher Nikkei Inc, recognised Fernandes' role in democratising travel in Asia.
"Under his leadership, AirAsia revolutionised the air travel industry in the region by pioneering the discount carrier phenomenon. As a result, air travel became widely accessible to people from all walks of life, boosting travel in the region," Nikkei said in the statement.
Fernandes is the only airline executive and the first Malaysian individual to be given the award since the launch of the annual Nikkei Asia Prize in 1996.
AirAsia said Nikkei also recognised Fernandes' "achievements in remaking the company into one of the most successful international airlines in Southeast Asia despite the recent economic slowdown of the airline industry.
"The award is a timely recognition for AirAsia, which is hoping to start Malaysia-Japan flights in 2010. AirAsia plans to make Kuala Lumpur the premier gateway to Asean for Japanese tourists. It is also hoping to offer low-fare flights to Japan to the 600-million strong Asean population," it said.
Fernandes said: "We're here to link more communities and to grow travel and tourism in Asia. We look forward to providing more links between the Asean region and the rest of Asia, including Japan.
"Links between countries play an integral part in strengthening Asia economically, socially and politically, and we are committed to helping achieve this."
AirAsia said with the slogan "Now everyone can fly" and in eight years, it had grown from an airline with two aircraft, one destination and 250 employees to an airline with 92 aircraft, about 70 destinations and a staff of 7,000.
It said the carrier was now regarded as the Asean airline, and was the largest and most successful low-cost airline in Asia.