Tony Fernandes – Keynote Speaker

Founder of Air Asia

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Specialist Subjects

  • Entrepreneur
  • Innovation
  • Creativity and Change


  • Chinese


Tony Fernandes founded Tune Air Sdn Bhd in 2001, with a vision to make air travel more affordable to Malaysians. With that in mind, Tony and his three partners bought over AirAsia from its owner DRB-Hicom. Tune Air’s initial project was to remodel AirAsia into a low fare no frills carrier after successful low fare airlines such as U.S.-based Southwest Airlines and Dublin-based Ryanair and create a new aviation product in Malaysia.

Under Tony’s leadership, the fledging airline with a RM40 million debt became a thriving business. The airline repaid all debts and has been in a profitable position from the first day of operation. In less than 3 years, AirAsia grew from 2 modest Boeing 737-300 to 30 and is now operating over 100 domestic and international daily flights from hubs in KLIA, Johor Bahru , Bangkok and Jakarta.

Under his wings, AirAsia went on to revolutionize the air travel industry in Malaysia and pioneered the low cost phenomenon in Asia. 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 passengers in its first year of operations. PT AWAIR , re-launched as a low fare airline on Dec 8th 2004 presently served 5 domestic destinations in Indonesia.

Tony Fernandes is a familiar face in the aviation industry as well as on an international level. He has appeared on the covers of Airline Business magazine, Asian Wall Street Journal, New York Times, International Herald Tribune, and featured on countless international publications such as South China Morning Post, Financial Times, Far Eastern Economic Review, The Economist, and many more.

Away from aviation, Fernandes is president of the Asian Basketball League and in 2010 he revived the Lotus Formula One team before renaming it Caterham in 2012. In August 2011, he was unveiled as the majority shareholder of English soccer Premier League’s Queens Park Rangers, where is is also chairman of QPR Holdings Ltd.

Recognised for his unique leadership and entrepreneurial skills, Tony Fernandes speaks on the growing business market in India and South East Asia believing that staff is the first priority, and that creativity and innovation in business are crucial.



•     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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