SEPANG: Datuk Seri Tony Fernandes, AirAsias group chief executive officer and Team Lotus team principal, has been awarded the Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) by Queen Elizabeth II.
AirAsia said in a statement yesterday the award was conferred “for services to promote commercial and educational links” between the United Kingdom and Malaysia.
Fernandes, together with three partners, took over the loss-making AirAsia from a Malaysian government-linked company in December 2001.
In just over nine years under his leadership, AirAsia has emerged as the region's largest low-cost carrier as well as a truly Asean airline that links South-East Asia to the larger world with its low fares, route connectivity and high-quality service.
In 2007, he founded sister airline AirAsia X, the low-cost, long-haul carrier that is often dubbed “AirAsia on steroids.” AirAsia X launched its low-fare route between Kuala Lumpur and London in 2009, providing affordable airfares that have spurred travel between the two countries, both in tourism as well as among students.
In Formula One, Fernandes and his partners Datuk Kamarudin Meranun and SM Nasarudin SM Nasimuddin have gained huge respect, credibility and an army of fans worldwide since launching their team in record time for the start of the 2010 F1 season.
Fernandes is also founder of the Tune Group, which hosts under its umbrella Tune Hotels (budget hotels, including one in central London), Tune Talk (pre-paid mobile telephony) and Tune Money (insurance and finance).
He was also the major mover and key partner in the effort to locate a campus of Britain's prestigious Epsom College in Malaysia.
Fernandes expressed delight at the news of the CBE.
“I'm grateful to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II for the honour. It is a recognition of the hard work, determination and effort on the part of all my partners, colleagues and staff in AirAsia, Tune Group and Team Lotus.
“We have a terrific bunch of talented people working with us to make things happen in whatever venture we undertake. This is as much their award as it is mine.”