Skeptics said a low-cost airline would never take off in Asia, where consumers expect a high level of service. But Tony Fernandes, convinced that the doubters were wrong, put together a deal to buy struggling AirAsia -- three days before 9/11. Fernandes used the resulting downturn to buy cheap aircraft and expand his network, expanding his passenger count more than 20-fold in just eight years. Now, during a global recession, he's launching AirAsia X, a long-haul service flying from London to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, for about $250.

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