India-origin Tony Fernandes has been named as the Airline CEO of the Year 2009, by Jane’s Transport Finance magazine, for successfully leading AirAsia to one of the world’s best low-cost airline.

“The award recognises Fernades’ vision and AirAsia’s success in the toughest airline market in decades,” Jane’s Transport Finance said.

Unlike many other airlines that have contracted operations due to the difficult economic climate, AirAsia has gone on expanding its fleet, opening new routes and hiring more staff, AirAsia said in a statement.

Fernades has led AirAsia’s growth from an airline with a fleet of two aircraft and a staff of 250 to an airline with around 82 aircraft and a staff of 6,500.

“We (Fernandes and his staff) have grown AirAsia together, with everybody pitching in with ideas, actively finding new ways to increase efficiency, improving services by effectively combining technology and the personal touch, and aggressively and smartly marketing our brand,” Fernades said.

At present AirAsia’s route network spans across the ASEAN region (Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, Cambodia, Myanmar, Laos, Vietnam, Singapore, Brunei and the Philippines), China, India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Australia.

Besides, AirAsia X, also connects to Australia, northern China, Taiwan, UK and the Middle East.