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3 of AirAsia's Tony Fernandes' most talked-about moments over the years

3 of AirAsia's Tony Fernandes' most talked-about moments over the years

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This week, Capital A's CEO, Tony Fernandes made waves online this week when he boarded a flight to help flight attendants hand out free drinks to customers. 

During his rounds, the CEO noticed that one of the passengers had brought outside food onto the plane, something that is in violation of the airline's regulations. 

Don't miss: AirAsia brand sentiments soar after CEO jokingly 'punishes' passenger on flight

In a TikTok video posted by Fernandes, he can be heard jokingly saying, "Report, report. She brought illegal food."

He goes on to say that no outside food is allowed and then 'punishes' the passenger by saying that she will not get any free drinks. Fernandes also took the opportunity to promote the airline's inflight meals and wrote in the caption of this post, "Just pre-book your Santan meals. It's way cheaper than outside food and drink."

Fernandes' joke took the Internet by storm with sentiments regarding him shooting up to 78.6% positive and 0% negative, up from 66.1% positive and 16.9% negative, according to media intelligence firm CARMA.

The controversial but well-loved leader is often in the news for both positive and negative reasons. Below, MARKETING-INTERACTIVE has round up some of his most-talked about moments. 

1. Posting a shirtless picture on LinkedIn

Last year, Fernandes stirred up the Internet when he decided to take to take to LinkedIn to share a topless photo of himself in the office getting a massage while conducting an online meeting.

“Got to love Indonesia and AirAsia culture that I can have a massage and do a management meeting,” he wrote in the post.

In a statement to MARKETING-INTERACTIVE, a spokesperson from the communications team at AirAsia said the unconventional sharing may have raised eyebrows for some, but the recent image was taken during a unique moment when Fernandes was multitasking, juggling a management meeting and a brief shoulder massage session.

“Everyone on the call, including our female management was asked if they are comfortable if he had a shoulder massage, after 18 hours of work. We have a fun, friendly and open culture at Capital A that values productivity, efficiency as well as transparency,” she said.

2. Deleting his X account 

In 2020, Fernandes decided to shut his X account after commenting that social media has become "an angry place". Before deleting his account, Fernandes posted that having shut down his Facebook account the previous year, it was time to do the same for X, The Star reported at the time.

While he had been a fan of the platform, Fernandes said at the time that there was "too much negativity and falsehood and anger". Nonetheless, he said it has been an amazing ride, The Star reported.

When Fernandes deleted his Facebook account due to the "hate" being disseminated on social media following the live-streaming of the terror attack on two mosques in New Zealand, he also pondered the same about X. Moreover, he had previously mentioned that "the amount of hate that goes on in social media sometimes outweighs the good".

3. Smiling at a virtual townhall

While carrying a smile during a company's virtual townhall seems entirely appropriate, Fernandes probably should have dropped it when AirAsia's Thailand CEO Tassapon Bijleveld swore at a female employee, telling her to "shut up".

The female employee was speaking when Bijleveld suddenly interrupted and said “What’s your f*cking question, come on.” The female employee then explained herself and he interjected once again with "What's your question, come on. Don't talk a lot, too much to talk.”

Bijleveld also told the female employee to "shut up" when she started speaking in Thai. Throughout this whole interaction, Fernandes and head of eCommerce Lim Ben-Jie were seen laughing and smirking, maybe uncomfortably, but silently in the background.

In a longer version of the video seen on Reddit, Fernandes used a Thai woman to explain his point on deliveries. He said: "If we deliver a Thai woman to Ben-Jie, and business is good, then we have many more deliveries." The video has also been shared on the Instagram Stories of some netizens.

The airline told MARKETING-INTERACTIVE that it has a zero-tolerance policy towards inappropriate behavior of any kind which is never compromised.

"We are aware of this incident, and it was dealt with immediately in the appropriate manner. We apologise to anyone affected and will ensure it doesn't happen again."

Join us this coming 24 - 25 April for #Content360, a two-day extravaganza centered around four core thematic pillars: Explore with AI; Insight-powered strategies; Content as an experience; and Embrace the future. Immerse yourself in learning to curate content with creativity, critical thinking, and confidence with us at Content360!

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