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AirAsia scoops Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation's Airline of the Year award for 2007

AirAsia was named the winner of the prestigious Centre for

Asia Pacific Aviation (CAPA) Airline of the Year Award for 2007 at a gala reception

in Singapore this evening.

AirAsia CEO, Tony Fernandes received the award before 300 distinguished members of the aviation community. The Gala Awards Ceremony was held as part of this year’s fourth annual Aviation Outlook Summit, showcasing airline and airport CEOs from around the Asia Pacific and Middle East regions.

Awarded to the airline that has had the greatest impact on the development of the airline industry in the region, establishing itself as a leader, and the benchmark for others to follow, AirAsia is poised to become the biggest airline in the region next decade, commanding a highly influential position in regional aviation.

"In aviation history terms, AirAsia's arrival on the international aviation scene is unprecedented. Perhaps only Ryanair and easyJet have made such meteoric rises. Barely in existence only five years ago, in another five years it promises to be the largest airline in the region. In the course of this phenomenal advance, it has changed the shape of Asian aviation and strongly influenced government attitudes to regulatory reform”, said Peter Harbison, Executive Chairman of the Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation.

Mr Harbison added, “AirAsia continues to provide the global benchmark low cost operation. Its new ventures this year include an extension of the cross-border joint venture model it pioneered in Asia, as well as the launch this week of its long-haul AirAsia X offshoot, confirming the airline's role as a true innovator and a catalyst for positive market change in this region and beyond”.

Other winners included:

Airport Authority Hong Kong CEO, Stanley Hui, accepted the award for Hong Kong International Airport, named the CAPA International Airport of the Year.

“Under Stanley Hui's leadership, Hong Kong International Airport has moved quickly to strengthen its position as a key hub for the Mainland China and North Asian markets. Airport Authority Hong Kong is also an active investor in Mainland China, using its proven track record in operating a growing and efficient airport to support the development of Mainland aviation. Hong Kong is very well positioned, with its broadened airline customer focus, to benefit from the region's aviation growth", said Mr Harbison.

Jetstar Airways CEO, Alan Joyce, accepted the CAPA Low Cost Airline of the Year.

Jetstar is forging a path other LCCs around the world are watching and following. Its breakthrough long haul services have positioned not only Jetstar, but the wider Qantas Group, to capitalise on the Australian outbound travel boom, while its low cost focus gives the Group a strong backbone to address rising short-haul competition. Jetstar is an airline of the future, delivering advantages to its parent well beyond profits in the bank", said Mr Harbison.

Yang Yuan Yuan, Minister, General Administration of Civil Aviation of China, recognised as the CAPA Aviation Minister of the Year.

Mr Harbison stated, "this year’s winner has presided over one of the most comprehensive turnarounds in national aviation safety ever witnessed, within the context of rapid growth and industry change. China's excellent safety record is Mr Yang's legacy to the industry. Mr Yang has also fostered a proactive approach to international liberalisation, creating new service opportunities for airlines, within a framework of enhancing the efficiency and competitiveness of the Chinese aviation system. His prudent approach to capacity planning and development within the national airport system and active agenda for enhancing Air Traffic Management efficiency are also important contributions recognised by this award".

Dr Vijay Mallya, Chairman and CEO of Kingfisher Airlines, accepted the CAPA Aviation Executive of the Year.

“Our Executive of the Year has established a corporate vision centred around the positioning of a premium brand for India and the world. Dr Mallya has been an outstanding ambassador for Indian aviation, helping bring the sector to international attention. He has played a leadership role in the consolidation of the domestic industry and in positioning the Kingfisher brand internationally through innovative and lateral initiatives, as well as recognising and fostering the massive global potential in general and business aviation", said Mr Harbison.

Jamie Bautista, CEO of Philippine Airlines, accepted the CAPA Airline Turnaround of the Year.

According to the Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation Executive Chairman, "few airlines have reformed themselves so comprehensively as Philippine Airlines. An unflinching cost focus, network focus and superb productivity enhancements have provided Philippine Airlines the platform to profitably expand and establish a strong position in the region's aviation industry. I congratulate Philippine Airlines' management and staff for making such a turnaround possible".

CAPA New Airline of the Year.

The Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation acknowledges the contribution both Oasis Hong Kong Airlines and Viva Macau have made to the low cost long-haul model and in particular to the rapidly evolving aviation scenes in the Hong Kong and Macau Special Administrative Regions. They are each awarded the CAPA New Airline of the Year for 2007.

"Oasis Hong Kong Airlines has burst onto the scene in the past 12 months, with a successful early low cost long haul model that will soon extend to a third long-haul destination. With a growing fleet of aircraft and new investors on board, Oasis Hong kong will quickly become a force to be reckoned with", said Peter Harbison, Executive Chairman of the Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation.

"Viva Macau epitomises the excitement and optimism that surrounds the development of Macau as one of the region’s leading leisure and entertainment centres. The city is fast becoming one of Asia's most vibrant LCC destinations and Viva Macau, with its significantly tailored model, will play a major catalyst role", said Mr Harbison.

Paul Donovan, Chief Operating Officer of Gold Coast Airport Ltd accepted the CAPA Low Cost Airport of the Year.

"Gold Coast Airport has the strategy, brand, facilities and approach to soar in this new aviation environment. Their team is to be commended for their efforts to meet the needs of the low cost segment while maintaining high operating standards. It is no coincidence that it has been able to attract AirAsia X to use the airport as its first long haul gateway", said Mr Harbison.

Lim Kim Hai, CEO of Regional Express (REX), accepted the CAPA Regional Airline of the Year.

Mr Harbison stated, “Regional Express has displayed a superb commitment to regional areas in Australia, helping breath life into cities that have struggled with air service cuts and the effects of the ongoing drought. It took a focused, efficient operator to make these services a success and Regional Express, under the leadership of Lim Kim Hai, continues to deliver these qualities".

Maurice Flanagan, Executive Vice Chairman, Emirates Airline accepted the CAPA Legend’s Award, joining Ray Webster (fmr Chief Executive Officer of easyJet) and Dr Cheong Choong Kong (fmr Deputy Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Singapore Airlines) in the CAPA Hall of Fame.

"This award honours a lifetime of strategic leadership, innovation and influence in the aviation industry. Under Mr. Flanagan’s stewardship since start-up, Emirates has gone from two aircraft serving three destinations in India and Pakistan to a fleet of more than 100 aircraft and the only airline operating non-stop to all continents on the globe from the one hub. Emirates' and Dubai's ascendant influence on global aviation will change the structure of the industry in years to come", said Mr Harbison.

Tourism Malaysia was named CAPA National Tourism Organisation of the Year.

“Tourism Malaysia's effective and cooperative tourism campaign with airlines has resulted in surging arrivals from short and long-haul markets. Their vision and strategy is to be commended", concluded Mr Harbison.