Lotus boss voted Businessman of the Year
4 December, 2010
Dec.4 (YallaF1.com) The December issue of Forbes Asia is out with a cover story declaring Tony Fernandes of Malaysia, who has pioneered low-cost travel through his Air Asia, as their choice of Businessman of the Year:
Several able contenders staked a claim for the honor, but the Lotus Formula 1 team owner scooped the prestigious accolade.
The Air Asia story, along with that of the affiliated Tune hotel chain, weathered the economic storm while excelling in the highly volatile airline business. Under Fernandes’ guidance Air Asia carved a niche in the target business.
By 2001 low-cost carriers had a decent foothold in North America and, operating from Ireland and the U.K., in much of Europe. But as late as 2005 much of Asia still reserved flying mainly for the affluent, using established and often state-owned airlines.
However, Fernandes was at work to change the terms of the trade. AirAsia was opening up service to multitudes and bringing the world’s fastest-growing region together on a scale that hadn’t been possible. In the latest full year 14.3 million passengers boarded AirAsia.
Yet it has not been a smooth flight. Various routines had to be upset in business and political cultures that do not take easily to change. On top of that, the airline industry is notoriously cyclical.
In economically fraught 2008 AirAsia suffered a net loss of $144 million. But its boss persevered, further confounding doubters by enjoying himself all the while, particularly as team principal for the revived Lotus F1 team.