PARIS, France— Malaysia’s Air Asia Group was named the world’s best low-cost airline during the so-called Oscars of the aviation industry on Tuesday.
This was the ninth year in a row that Air Asia has bagged this recognition at the 2017 Skytrax World Airline Awards.
Air Asia, which is based in Malaysia, has been rapidly expanding in the region, with affiliates in Indonesia, Thailand, the Philippines, India and Japan. It lays claim to having the biggest network across Asia and Australia.
Air Asia Group CEO Tony Fernandes was present during the awarding ceremony, held in Le Bourget Airport, which is also hosting the 2017 International Paris Air Show this week.
Fernandes said the award, while “surprising”, marked a milestone for the company and the region.
“Today, Asean has created a world record,” Fernandes said.
“We are now nine times world champion. To put it into perspective, Brazil won the FIFA World Cup five times, Michael Jordan was NBA champion six times and Michael Phelps holds the record for most first place finishes at a single Olympics with eight gold medals,” he added.
The Skytrax World Airline Awards was established in 1999, and is considered the world’s biggest annual airline passenger satisfaction survey. It is not restricted to member airlines, such as those part of an alliance, and any commercial carrier can be nominated.
According to Skytrax, the online survey ran from August 2016 to May 2017, and considered 19.87 million eligible survey entries across 105 countries. It said 320 airlines were surveyed.
Air Asia bagged other awards that day, including best low cost airline in Asia. Affiliate Air Asia X won awards for its premium seats and cabin.
The top prize was the Skytrax world’s best airline of the year award.
This was won by Qatar Airways, whose CEO Akbar Al Baker made a surprise and brief speech lashing out at Middle East neighbors blockading Qatar and calling them “big bullies.”
Accepting Air Asia’s award was Group Cabin Crew Head Suhaila Hassan, who has been with the company for 20 years. Accompanying him up on the stage were award-winning musician and producer David Foster and Brazilian football player Roberto Carlos.
“We take the world champion title seriously and we will strive to continue to improve for both our guests and shareholders,” Fernandes said.
“Over the last 15 years we have created a great brand and over the next 15, we want to move towards One AirAsia, a truly Asean community airline. We also want to recreate ourselves as a digital airline and use technology to drive more value,” he added.
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