Tan Sri Tony Fernandes

An iconic Malaysian entrepreneur, AirAsia and Tune Group CEO Tony Fernandes has been instrumental in shaping the culture and future of travelling in Asia


Tony Fernandes is one of the few instantly recognisable Asian business leaders, known globally for his appetite for risk and innovation. Fernandes first came to prominence as the head of low-cost carrier AirAsia, which brought travel and connectivity throughout the region.

Exposed to an entrepreneurial environment early on, he attributes his love of marketing to his mother who, he said, could “sell ice to an Eskimo”. This led him to a career in the music industry as a VP at Universal Music Group to eventually buying AirAsia for RM1… and a debt of RM10 million. Two planes and a couple years later, Fernandes succeeded in building an aviation empire in one of the world’s fastest-growing markets. In recognition for his outstanding contributions to the aviation industry, he was awarded the Officier de la Légion d’Honneur by the government of France and a CBE from Queen Elizabeth II.

There’s no doubt that Fernandes will once again re-shape the future of flying post-pandemic, but recently he’s been interested in a different kind of journey. The tycoon has ventured into education with Tune Group, establishing the Tony Fernandes School of Business at the University of Cambodia, which seeks to instil students with a hunger for upward mobility. Aiming to mould and inspire the next generation of leaders in Asia, it’s no surprise that Fernandes—worth a cool $335 million—is the face of this institution.

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Did you know?

When Fernandes was a newcomer to the aviation industry, his close friend the Edge (David Evans) from legendary rock band U2 introduced him to RyanAir. Fernandes then went on to travel to Dublin via RyanAir, where he was so impressed that he decided to make the airline an integral model for AirAsia. Thanks, Edge!  

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