AirAsia is a multinational airline owned by Tony Fernandez and his company, Tune Group. It is currently the largest airline company operating in Malaysia and has a strong presence internationally.
It has established itself with its signature red and white color scheme and became famously known for being low-cost in its flights while still providing top of the line services for all its customers. This has allowed it to be the preferred choice by many customers and had won many accolades and awards.
But how did this airline company which was once at the brink of bankruptcy managed to built itself back up to became this massive and renowned? Let's take a look into how AirAsia became successful.
A Leader With A Vision
AirAsia actually started operations in 1996 when it was owned by DRB-HICOM, a government owned conglomerate. After years of struggle and was almost bankrupt, it was then purchase by Tune Groups, a company own by Tony Fernandez and Dato Kamarudin Meranun.
They purchased the airline for one ringgit only and agreed to take on its 40 million ringgit debt. They started operations again that same year with only two planes and the odds seem against them especially when they had also compete against other airlines such as MASwings.
But Tony Fernandez had a dream; to establish an airline where anyone can afford to fly on airplanes to any destinations, with the slogan "Now Anyone Can Fly". And within almost two years, under his leadership, AirAsia paid off its debts and saw exponential growth.
It was not just about the price of flights, Tony Fernandez also made sure that quality service also came along with the package. Food and beverages on flight being available to all passengers and the employees are well-trained and professional in serving and handling customers.
After ten years, AirAsia has grown to include flights to multiple countries and have their own airports there. It has set the standard for what is expected of airlines during that time.
Cheap And Affordable
With a slogan "Now Anyone Can Fly", Tony Fernandez set out to make sure that AirAsia always offer affordable prices for everyone and not just for the rich and powerful. They always set their prices lower than other airlines, and even offer premium discounts for the already low price.
During those two years since Tune Group acquired AirAsia, they had intentionally operated at a loss. But with Tony Fernandez's leadership they endured the first few months and soon the airline started gaining more tractions and by the second year they were able to pay away their forty million ringgit debt.
Even today, their prices are still the most affordable and set the pace for other airlines to set their own prices at a competitive price.
During those early two years, when AirAsia was setting the price of their flights to be very low, they had to limit the amount of employees they can hire. Because of the shortage of staff, Tony Fernandez encouraged his employees to take on multiple roles and be multi-taskers.
Almost everyone in AirAsia was in charge of different almost unrelated tasks. That janitor who was cleaning up the restroom earlier will also be the one to helping to load baggage onto the plane later.
This form of multi-tasking has lead to a work culture where having cross-skills is encouraged and that culture has persisted even to this day.
Excellent Human Resources Management
AirAsia's headquarters called RedQ is located at KLIA2 in Kuala Lumpur. However, it is a very long drive from the airport to the metropolis and they have many of their pilots and flight attendants that come and go from the airport and because of that the company has opened and established many facilities for their employees to use.
Facilities ranging from recreation like a gym to food services serving various cuisines to personal services like a hair salon and beauty studio and even sleeping pods for naps. AirAsia made sure they have everything their employees need on-site as they travel.
It is not just these commodities. They have a designed their offices to be bright and comfortable to work in rather dull and industrial.
Finally, as mentioned earlier AirAsia has a work culture where employees can be cross-skilled. This lived on in the airline where now their employees are allowed and even encouraged to change their careers to a different area.
A flight attendant is allowed to change their role to a more managerial position if deemed qualified. Just like how AirAsia make sure to give the best service possible to their customers, they also made sure to treat their employees well and take care of them.
`Multiple Flight Destinations Locally And Internationally
AirAsia had mainly served local flights in Malaysia during its first six years under Tune Groups. Then in 2007, they opened a sister company called AirAsia X, formerly FlyAsianXpress which was owned by Tony Fernandez and his fellow co-founders.
With the opening of AirAsia X, the airline now allows long flights to other countries while still maintaining its affordable prices. The very first flight AirAsia X took was to the Golden Coast in Australia.
Since then, with the combination of both AirAsia and AirAsia X, the airline has flew customers to over 118 locations across 25 countries. This wide range of destinations available under their wing has allowed the airline to become a favorite and go-to choice for many looking to travel.
AirAsia's success story seemed like a fairy tale came true, a dream that many entrepreneur would wish could happen. From a humble beginning as a struggling airline to its acquisition and leadership under Tony Fernandez and his ambitions, the red and white specked airline has become a powerhouse within Southeast Asia.