What I Learned Listening To Tony Fernandes Of AirAsia Berhad

It is no secret that I am a big fan of AirAsia Berhad and its founders; Tony Fernandes and Kamarudin Meranun. So when Tony Fernandes was in Singapore to launch his autobiography, “Flying High” (Almost the same launch period as our book), I jumped at the opportunity to go to the event.

I also bought his book a few days before and was able to read through it in one reading. It talked about his life story from his boarding school experience in the UK to how he started AirAsia and where it is going.

How He Made The Impossible Possible

One story in particular that stuck with me is the story of him trying to buy a house in the UK while he was still studying. He has no income and would only be able to get a house with a mortgage. Although it is clearly an irrational idea to most of us that you would be able to get a mortgage with no income, it does not stop him from trying. He went to talk to hundreds of banks and mortgage specialists and amazingly he did secure his mortgage and bought his first home. Talk about doing the impossible. That was the first “out-of-this-world” type of deal he made in his life.

The Future Of AirAsia

Another comment that he made that spike my interests is how he describes the future of AirAsia. He felt that AirAsia should become more of a data company rather than just an airline. Given that more than 73 million passengers fly with AirAsia every year, he believed that the data that they have gotten on all these passengers could be very valuable in the future.

This is something similar to what the Chief Executive of Ryanair, Michael O’Leary has shared as well. Michael once said that air ticket could be free in the future, with airline making money through other opportunities like sharing revenues with airports. So in turn, budget airlines would become the platform to bring people into airports and the tourism industry at large.

Does that mean that we could fly for free in the future and AirAsia would partner with other tourism providers to offer us other related services and they just earn on affiliate sales or advertising? It is still unclear but the idea of pushing airfares down to zero could really boost the tourism industry.

Consolidation For AirAsia?

Tony Fernandes also mentioned that the parent company of AirAsia, Tune Group, has many other businesses and that has created some issues with AirAsia. So they might be thinking of consolidating their operations under AirAsia Berhad. He did not clarify what does he mean by.

Does it mean that other Tune Group’s businesses, including listed ones like Tune Protect Group Berhad, could be privatized into AirAsia Berhad? Or does it mean that other associates of AirAsia Berhad, including listed associates like AirAsia X Berhad, would be privatized into AirAsia?

AirAsia and its related parties currently have three listed companies on Bursa Malaysia; AirAsia Berhad, AirAsia X Berhad and Tune Protect Group Berhad. It is too early for us to be sure of anything but it could mean we might expect some consolidation happening going forward, whichever way it might turn out to be.

To get Tony Fernandes latest book; Flying High, you can click on the link HERE. Or you can get the Kindle version Below.

Stanley Lim, CFA

Stanley Lim has spent the last decade in the investment industry. Over the course of his career, he has kick-started a few businesses, worked in the family office industry and most recently in the investment advisory industry. He has been a writer and analyst for The Motley Fool Singapore from 2013 to 2017. He has written close to 2000 articles online, on investment education and market analysis. He is the co-writer of the investment book: “Value Investing In Asia”, published in 2018. Stanley is currently the chief editor of Value Invest Asia.

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