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Success Factor of Tony Fernandes

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    Tan Sri Anthony Francis Fernandes CBE (born 30 April 1964; also known as Tony Fernandes) is a Malaysian entrepreneur and the founder of Tune Air Sdn. Bhd. , who introduced the first budget no-frills airline, AirAsia, to Malaysians with the tagline “Now everyone can fly”. He has since founded the Tune Group of companies. In 2007, Tony Fernandes started a hotel chain, Tune Hotels, 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 ASEAN Basketball League (ABL). 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. Fernandes is the team principal of the Caterham F1 Formula One team, which began racing in 2010 as Lotus Racing and raced in 2011 as Team Lotus.

    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 me? ‘ That would be scary. On top of this, the team also produced a poster depicting Branson in an Air Asia uniform. He rose to prominence by turning AirAsia, a failing government-linked commercial airline, into a highly successful budget airline public-listed company. Fernandes was also instrumental in lobbying the then-Malaysian Prime Minister, Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad in mid-2003, to propose the idea of open skies agreements with neighbouring Thailand, Indonesia, and Singapore. As a result, these nations have granted landing rights to AirAsia and other discount carriers.

    Tony Fernandes might well have the right timing, network and business model when he acquired the then ailing-and-$11millionindebted AirAsia at 26 cents in 2001. However, given his practically nil experience in the airline business – he was in the music industry with Virgin Record and Warner Music prior to AirAsia, appalling condition of AirAsia when he took it over, the decline in the airline industry post 9/11 and the uncertainties in the Asian market, his decision to take-over AirAsia certainly has a strong opportunistic quality.

    The June issue of New York-based business magazine, Fast Company, named Tune Group Co-Founder Datuk Seri Tony Fernandes as one of the 100 most creative people in business for this year. Fernandes is also AirAsia Group Chief Executive Officer and Team Lotus Principal. Tony Fernandes took over the directorship of the airline while it was still losing money. However, through his innovative creativity, he was able to turn the airlines around. He changed the entire booking system to online and sales started to boost. It has expanded and still expanding ever since.

    Not only they are routing domestic flights today, they are also operating flights to other countries like Singapore, Indonesia, Macau, England, Australia and New Zealand. Even MAS Airlines (Malaysia Airlines), couldn’t keep up with the competition. Their motto goes like this – We Innovate, Others Imitate! AirAsia continues to confound analysts with its success, while its one time naysayers have not been heard from in years. Tony Fernandes is to be congratulated for his persistence in the face of a host of obstacles to develop an airline that is the talk of every boardroom and government in the region.

    Where once a farmer would look up at a vapor trail with envy, now that vapor trail is a reminder to book his family’s next holiday on AirAsia. Dato’ Sri Tony Fernandes: we fly to where others dare not fly or have given up. “ Being an unproven model, the low-cost, long-haul business is rather risky. But it is a feasible business with tremendous growth opportunities, hence it qualifies for us to put our money on it,” Fernandes explains. “ Six year ago, we began as a small airline with a RM40 million debt and two aircraft.

    We have successfully turned the business around and had the most profound impact on the aviation industry. True to form, we must believe that our achievement today add up to just another beginning. We cannot rest on our laurels. The sky is high enough and wide enough to accommodate our growth plans. It is up to us to rise to occasion. ”“When we first started, many people thought it was a crazy idea to offer low fares as it was not economically viable,” says group chief executive Tony Fernandes. “Especially with an airline with high aspirations like us, we were expected to fail.

    However with strong persistence and the right strategies, we persevered and we are now the leading and largest low-cost carrier in Asia. Fernandes has concentrated on Malaysia as main market but he has looked further afield to Thailand, Indonesia. He looked Southeast Asia as his focus market. He thinks there’s a lack of ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) brands and ASEAN’s been kind of looked over while everyone’s focusing on China and India. There are 600 million people in ASEAN, of more or less the same socioeconomic background and that’s his focus.

    He claimed that in some ways it’s been looked over by many people and that will be key in that first. The strategy in his firm is very clear: Be key in your own country first. The successful result is AirAsia continues with routes up to four hours’ flying time from KL, while AirAsia X will now focus on medium-haul flights within Asia. Budget air travel is estimated to make up about 15 percent of passenger traffic in Southeast Asia, but by 2020 this could reach 35 percent. There is no one single factor that can be considered as the one that makes Air Asia so successful in Asia region.

    It is a combination of a number of factors which, when brought together gives the success observed. One of the important factors is that Fernandes was taking calculated risks and making rapid expansion to maintain the ‘lead player’ status in the marketplace is essential in the heavily regulated airline industry in S. E. Asia. Air Asia has achieved this through the dynamic as well as charismatic leadership of its CEO. In his interview with CNN, we know that he is a self-directed entrepreneur which he wants to be in control of his activities.

    For instance, the interviewer asked, “When Air Asia started, you were known to go down, roll up your sleeves, and really get in with your staff at all levels, do you still have time to do that? ” “I have less time, but I still do it. I think it’s fundamental to running my company, because, unless you get down to the floor and see what’s happening, you won’t make effective decisions. I do it for two reasons. One is, to see what’s going on, and to make sure if I’m making the right decisions. And the second thing is, I still want to discover these raw diamonds,” answered by Fernandes.

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