Early years Born in Kuala Lumpur to a Goan father and Malacca Portuguese mother, Dato’ Sri Tony Fernandes is the son of the late Stephen Edward Fernandes, and Ena Dorothy Fernandez. When he was young, he used to follow his mother, a businesswoman, to Tupperware dealer parties and conventions. He was educated at Epsom College 1977-83 and then graduated from the London School of Economics in 1987. He worked very briefly with Virgin Atlantic as an auditor, subsequently becoming the financial controller for Richard Branson’s Virgin Records in London from 1987 to 1989. 1] Tony was admitted as Associate Member of the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) in 1991 and became Fellow Member in 1996. Upon his return to Malaysia, he became the youngest-ever managing director of Warner Music (Malaysia) Sdn Bhd. Though an accountant, Fernandes is an amateur guitarist and also has achieved grade 8 piano which is where his musical inclination lies. He was responsible for revolutionising ethnic music, nasyid and dangdut, bringing them into the mainstream of contemporary Malaysian music. He subsequently became the South East Asian regional vice-president for Warner Music Group from 1992-2001.Order now
When Time Warner Inc announced its merger with America Online Inc. , Fernandes left to pursue his dream of starting a budget no-frills airline. However, his application for a license from the Malaysian government was rejected. Launching AirAsia It was through Datuk Pahamin A. Rejab, the former secretary-general of the Malaysian Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Ministry that Fernandes got to meet up with the then Prime Minister, Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad in October 2001. AirAsia, the heavily-indebted subsidiary of the Malaysian government-owned conglomerate, DRB-Hicom, was losing money speedily.
Instead of starting from scratch, Mahathir advised Fernandes to buy an existing airline instead. Fernandes mortgaged his home and sank his savings to acquire the company, comprising two ageing Boeing 737-300 jets (9M-AAA and 9M-AAB) and USD$11 million (RM40 million) worth of debts, for 26 US cents (one ringgit), and transformed it into an industry player. Coming just after the 11 September 2001, undoubtedly the worst day in the history of commercial aviation when nobody wanted to fly, everyone thought that Fernandes had gone “crazy”, predicting that the company would fail iserably. Yet, just one year after his takeover, AirAsia had broken even and cleared all its debts. Its initial public offering (IPO) in November 2004 was oversubscribed by 130 per cent. Fernandes says his timing was in fact perfect: Since 11 September 2001, aircraft leasing costs were down 40%. Also, airline lay-offs mean experienced staff were readily available. He believed Malaysian travellers would embrace a cut-rate air service that will save them time and money, especially in a tight economy.
That was why he copied one of the world’s most successful no-frills carriers, Ryanair out of Ireland (which in turn is modelled after Southwest Airlines in the United States). Fernandes thinks that about 50 per cent of the travellers on Asia’s budget airlines are first-time flyers. Before AirAsia, he estimates that only six per cent of Malaysians had ever travelled in a plane. Other ventures In 2007, Tony Fernandes has again created a “first” in Asia by starting a hotel chain, Tune Hotels which is based on the no-frills concept.
The first Tune Hotel was opened at the intersection of Jalan Sultan Ismail and Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman in the heart of Kuala Lumpur. Expansions are in the works as more hotels will be opened up throughout Malaysia. Another new Tune Hotel will be opening soon in Bali, Indonesia. As of 2009, Fernandes is also the president of the ABL (Asian Basketball League). Fernandes has stated that it has always been a dream of his to be able to be involved with the development of sports in the ASEAN region. Lotus F1 Fernandes is the team principal of the new Lotus F1 Racing, which has been granted entry into the 2010 Formula One season.
Having initially planned to stand down from the role after the season begins, he has since indicated that he will carry on in this position. On 16 December 2009, Fernandes accepted a “challenge” from Richard Branson, a fellow airline boss and the owner of Lotus’ fellow F1 newcomers Virgin Racing, where the losing team’s boss should work on the winner’s airline for a day dressed as a stewardess joking “The sexier the better. Our passengers will be delighted to be served by a Knight of the Realm, but knowing Richard, the real challenge will be to prevent him from asking our guests ‘coffee, tea or e? ‘ That would be scary. “ On top of this, the team also produced a poster depicting Branson in an Air Asia uniform. West Ham United Fernandes is a fan of English Premier League club West Ham United and has been involved in talks concerning a takeover of the club. Achievements and awards Fernandes’ biggest achievement has been to turn the AirAsia airline into an international carrier. Before the creation of AirAsia, countries in the region did not have open-skies agreements.
In mid-2003, Fernandes’ lobbying pushed Dr Mahathir to raise the idea with the leaders of neighbouring Thailand, Indonesia, and Singapore. As a result, those nations have granted landing rights to AirAsia and other discount carriers. Fernandes has indeed set in motion the advent of budget carriers in the region. Now, Southeast Asia hosts a number of low-price carriers such as: * Malaysia’s Firefly (owned by Malaysia Airlines) * Singapore’s Tiger Airways (owned by Singapore Airlines); * Singapore’s Valuair and Jetstar Asia (partly owned by Qantas Airways) (both airlines merged in 2005); * Thailand’s Nok Air; Indonesia’s Lion Air; * Vietnam’s Jetstar Pacific (formerly Pacific Airlines), and * Philippines’s Cebu Pacific. In 2004, AirAsia formed successful joint ventures in Thailand and Indonesia where AirAsia holds 49% stake in both companies. Thai AirAsia, a joint venture with Shin Corporation, Thailand’s largest telecommunication conglomerate, took to the skies in Feb 2004 and has to date carried over 1 million guests in its first year of operations. PT AWAIR, re-launched as a low fare airline on Dec 8th 2004 and subsequently re-named Indonesia AirAsia, presently serves 5 domestic destinations in Indonesia.
Fernandes has received several awards for his outstanding achievements: * International Herald Tribune Award for the “Visionaries & Leadership Series”, for his outstanding work in AirAsia; * “Malaysian CEO of the Year 2003” in December 2003 — a highly acclaimed recognition, so far awarded to only nine other recipients in the country, by American Express and Business Times. The award was an initiative to recognize entrepreneurial and managerial expertise and performance among leaders of Malaysian corporations. * Named the joint winner of the CEO of the Year 2003 award by American Express Corporate Services and Business Times . “Emerging Entrepreneur of the Year” in the Ernst ; Young “Entrepreneur Of The Year Awards” in 2003; * Made the list of Business Week’s “25 Stars of Asia” in 2005. * “Malaysian Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year 2006” * “Excellence In Leadership – Asia Pacific Leadership Awards 2009” Fernandes has also been honoured by the Malaysian government with title Dato Seri and also by the government of France with the Legion d’Honneur title. Wealth In 2007, Forbes Asia valued Fernandes’ personal wealth at $230 million ranking him at number 24 on the Forbes list of Malaysia’s Richest.