Dato’ Sri Tony Fernandes founded Tune Air Sdn Bhd in 2001, with a vision to make air travel more affordable to Malaysians. Tony and his three partners bought over AirAsia from its owner DRB-Hicom and re-launched the airline as a low-fare carrier modelled after such successful low fare airlines as U. S. -based Southwest Airlines and Dublin-based Ryanair. Under Tony’s leadership, the fledging airline with a RM40 million debt became a thriving business. The airline repaid all debts and has been consistently profitable from the first day of operation.
In less than eight years, AirAsia has grown from 2 modest Boeing 737-300, one destination and 25 staff to more than 80 brand-new Airbus A320 planes, 60 destinations and almost 7,000 staff. It now operates more than 400 daily flights from its main hubs in Kuala Lumpur, Bangkok and Jakarta. . AirAsia has democratised air travel in the region, freeing it from the clutches of the elite. The airline’s low fares and high quality provide terrific value for travellers and are a constant reinforcement of its tag phrase: Now Everyone Can Fly.
Having ferries just 250,000 guests in its first year of operations, AirAsia has since flown more than 75 million guests in just eight years. AirAsia’s unmatched route network and frequency of flights in the region have made it THE Asean airline, connecting the capitals of all 10 Southeast Asian member states. Its route network has been likened to “sky bridges” linking the cultures and communities of this vast and diverse region separated by large bodies of water.
AirAsia is now acknowledged as a powerful dynamo powering the economies of the region and a powerful force binding the people of Asean into a major economic, cultural and social powerhouse. But Dato Sri Tony hasn’t stopped there. In 2007, he launched AirAsia X, the world’s only low-cost, long-haul airline. AirAsia X now flies to several cities in Australia, China, Middle East and London — linking the three continents of Australia, Asia and Europe at fares that’ are a fraction of that charged by traditional legacy carriers.