Tony Fernandes (AirAsia CEO and founder) Biography, Net Worth, Parents, Siblings, Career, Education

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Tony Fernandes, AirAsia CEO and founder

Meet Tony Fernandes, AirAsia’s founder and Group CEO, has received various awards and accolades throughout his career.

Some noteworthy achievements include being ranked 21st on Forbes’ list of Malaysia’s Richest in 2013, winning the 2009 Airline CEO of the Year Award, and being named Malaysian Entrepreneur of the Year by Ernst & Young in 2006.

In 2017, he received the Asia House Asian Business Leaders Award for his outstanding contribution to Asian business and society, and in 2023, he was honored as the Asia Pacific CEO of The Year by Airline Economics’ Aviation 100.

Fernandes holds titles such as CBE, Tan Sri Malaysia, Officer of the Légion d’honneur (France), and more. His leadership has transformed AirAsia into a successful low-cost airline, and his strategic vision and dedication have earned him respect in the business community.

Who Is Tony Fernandes?

Anthony Francis Fernandes, a Malaysian entrepreneur, has left an indelible mark on the aviation industry.

Born on 30 April 1964 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, he is renowned as the founder of Tune Air Sdn. Bhd., the company that revitalized AirAsia, transforming it from a failing government-linked commercial airline into a highly successful budget airline.

This biographic blog post delves into the life of this visionary individual, tracing his journey from humble beginnings to his current status as a prominent figure in business and sports.


Anthony Fernandes, aged 59 as of 2024, was born in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. His Indian heritage, with roots traced back to Goa, and his mixed Asian-Portuguese descent contribute to his unique background.

Anthony serves as the Group Chief Executive Officer of AirAsia Berhad, the founder of Tune Group, and the Chairman of Petaling Jaya Rangers.

Tony Fernandes’s dynamic career has not only shaped the airline industry but extended to ownership of Caterham Group, the parent company of British car manufacturer Caterham Cars. Until July 2023, he held the majority shares in Queens Park Rangers Football Club.

Early Life and Education

Growing up in Kuala Lumpur, Anthony followed his mother, who sold Tupperware at Tupperware parties. His education journey began at The Alice Smith School in Kuala Lumpur.

From 1976 to 1983, he pursued studies at Epsom College boarding school in England, matriculating to the London School of Economics, where he graduated with a degree in accounting.

Personal Life

In 1994, Anthony married Deborah Lee Bergstrom, with whom he had two children, Stephanie and Stephen. However, they separated in 2004.

His personal life took another turn when he married South Korean actress Chloe Kim on 14 October 2017. The couple celebrated the birth of their third child, Aliyah Ena Fernandes, on August 14, 2021.

As of 2024, Anthony Fernandes is an Overseas Citizen of India, reflecting his partial Indian ancestry. Despite his diverse background, he revealed in an interview that he does not speak Malay fluently.

Tony Fernandes Net Worth (as of 2024)

Forbes valued Tony Fernandes’ net worth at US$335 million as of 2020, marking a drop from US$650 million in February 2014.

The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic led to the sale of his Ayrshire estate in Scotland for £2.5 million in November 2020.


Tony Fernandes commenced his career briefly with Virgin Atlantic, initially as an auditor, before becoming the financial controller for Richard Branson’s Virgin Communications in London from 1987 to 1989.

Following this, he joined Warner Music International London as a Senior Financial Analyst. Fernandes obtained associate membership in the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) in 1991, achieving Fellowship in 1996.

Currently, he is a member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW).

Move to Aviation Industry

Fernandes served as a Warner Music executive in Malaysia and Vice President, ASEAN at Warner Music South East Asia until July 2001. Inspired by the merger of Time Warner and America Online, Fernandes left to fulfill his dream of establishing a budget no-frills airline.

AirAsia’s Success Story

In 2001, Fernandes, guided by Datuk Pahamin A. Rajab and Malaysian Prime Minister Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad, acquired the struggling AirAsia for a symbolic one ringgit.

A year later, AirAsia not only broke even but also cleared all debts, leading to a successful oversubscribed IPO in November 2004.

Influence on Aviation Policies

Fernandes played a crucial role in advocating open skies agreements with neighboring Thailand, Indonesia, and Singapore, securing landing rights for AirAsia and other discount carriers.

Expansion and Diversification

Apart from AirAsia, Fernandes ventured into various businesses. He initiated Tune Hotels in 2007, a no-frills hotel chain, and served on the International Advisory Board of Global March to Jerusalem in 2012.

Entrepreneurial Ventures

In 2013, Tony Fernandes hosted The Apprentice Asia and authored his memoir, “Flying High,” in 2017. He also took on the role of the head of Malaysia Stadium Corporation in 2018.

Response to Challenges

Facing Airbus bribery allegations in 2020, Fernandes temporarily stepped down as AirAsia’s CEO but was reinstated after the probe cleared him. To adapt to the impact of COVID-19, he entered the food delivery business.

Involvement in Motorsports

Fernandes founded the Caterham F1 Formula One team in 2010, later selling it in 2014. He also engaged in challenges with fellow airline boss Richard Branson.

Sports Ownership

A fan of West Ham United, Tony Fernandes became the majority shareholder of Queens Park Rangers (QPR) in 2011. Despite challenges, including relegation, he remained actively involved in the club until his departure in 2023.

Honours and Awards

Anthony Fernandes has been recognized with numerous honours and awards, including the Commander of the Order of Loyalty to the Crown of Malaysia (PSM), Commander of the National Order of the Legion of Honour in France, and Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the United Kingdom.

He holds honorary doctorates from various institutions and has received accolades such as “Malaysian CEO of the Year 2003” and “Brand Builder of the Year” in 2014.

In Conclusion

In conclusion, Anthony Francis Fernandes’ journey from a Tupperware seller’s son to a global business magnate is a testament to his resilience and vision.

This blog post has offered a glimpse into his life, covering his early days, personal life, professional achievements, and the accolades that attest to his exceptional contributions.

Anthony Fernandes continues to inspire as a symbol of entrepreneurial success and innovation.

Tony Fernandes (AirAsia CEO and founder) Biography, Net Worth, Parents, Siblings, Family, Career, Education, Personal Life
Tony Fernandes, AirAsia CEO and founder

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