One of Asia’s most recognisable entrepreneurs, Tony Fernandes is best known for co-founding AirAsia with Datuk Kamarudin Meranun and democratising air travel in the region. Fernandes and Datuk Kamarudin famously bought the ailing airline for a token MYR1 (approximately USD0.25) and MYR40 million in debt, turning it around within two years and growing it from a Malaysian domestic carrier into Asia’s largest low-cost carrier by passengers carried.
Since 2018, Fernandes has been spearheading a digital transformation of his businesses, launching AirAsia’s super-app (now AirAsia MOVE) in October 2020, a comprehensive travel platform that offers flights, hotels, and e-hailing services. He is currently the CEO of Capital A, an investment holding company with a diverse portfolio of synergistic businesses, including AirAsia, aviation services, fintech BigPay, and logistics venture Teleport. He studied in the UK and qualified as an Associate Member of the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants in 1991 and Fellow Member in 1996. An accountant by training, Fernandes began his career in Richard Branson’s Virgin Group before returning to Malaysia as Warner Music Group’s Vice President for Southeast Asia before venturing into the airline business.
He has received numerous honours and awards over the course of his career, including the Honour of the Commander of the Order of the British Empire, conferred by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II in 2011, and the Commander of the Legion d’Honneur, awarded by the French government for his outstanding contributions towards the aviation industry.
Recognised for his unique leadership and entrepreneurial skills, Tony speaks on the growing business market in Asean and beyond with his belief that people are the first priority and that creativity and innovation in business are crucial.
AWARDS & ACCOLADES
• Tan Sri Tony was named a Malaysia Brand Ambassador by Prime Minister Dato’ Sri Mohd Najib bin Tun Haji Abdul Razak at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. He went on to win Corporate Governance Asia’s Best CEO for Malaysia award – for the third year in a row – in March.
• Fernandes was named GQ India’s International Businessman of the Year in a ceremony held in Mumbai. Fernandes received the award for his success in business and for exemplifying the power of dreaming big.
• Fernandes was named as one of Malaysia’s most outstanding CEOs by The Edge Billion Ringgit Club for leading AirAsia’s success in the aviation industry.
• Fernandes was named by Corporate Governance Asia as the Best CEO for Malaysia at the 2nd Asian Excellence Recognition Awards.
• The British monarch, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, awarded to Fernandes the title of Commander of the Order of the British Empire for his services in promoting commercial and educational links between the United Kingdom and Malaysia.
• Fernandes is named as one of the most creative people in business for 2011 by New York-based business magazine Fast Company. He was the only person from the ASEAN region who made it to the list, which also named him as one of the Top 10 most creative people on Twitter.
• For his contributions in enhancing business ethics, transparency and corporate social responsibility, Fernandes received the 2nd Asian Corporate Director Recognition award from Corporate Governance Asia.
• Fernandes was named CEO of the Year at the 5th Annual Budgies World Low Cost Airline Awards held in London.
• Media giant CNBC named Fernandes the first winner of its CNBC Travel Business Leader award at its inaugural Travel Business Leaders Award Asia Pacific ceremony in Singapore.
• Forbes Asia named Fernandes its Businessman of the Year for 2010. He was the first person from the ASEAN region to receive the prestigious award.
• Fernandes received from the government of France the title of Officer of the Legion d’ Honneur for his outstanding contributions to the French aviation industry. It is the highest rank of honor that the government of France can award to a non-French citizen.
• The prestigious Nikkei Asia Prize was given to Fernandes in Tokyo for his contributions in the Asia Pacific region.
• He also received the Masterclass Global CEO of the Year award at the 2nd Malaysia Business Leadership Award 2010 ceremony for his many contributions to Malaysia’s economy.
• Fernandes received from Aviation Week, the global aviation news and intelligence publisher, the Laureate Award in the Commercial Air Transport category at the Annual Laureate Awards held in Washington, DC.
• He was named TTG’s Travel Personality of the Year in the 20th Annual TTG Travel Awards 2009 Ceremony & Gala Dinner.
• He received the 2009 Frost & Sullivan Excellence in Leadership Award for exemplary leadership skills in driving excellence within his organization.
• Fernandes was given the Center for Asia Pacific Aviation’s (CAPA) Legend Award and was named into CAPA’s Aviation Hall of Fame
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