Tony Fernandes, CBE, best known for co-founding low-cost carrier AirAsia with Datuk Kamarudin Meranun and also as Chairman of Queen’s Park Rangers, has been awarded an honorary degree by Cranfield University.
He joined the other honorary graduates from the world of business and more than 1,500 postgraduate students, representing 100 different countries, at the celebration ceremonies held over two days.
Keith Mason, Professor of Air Transport Management at Cranfield, said: “These celebrations recognise the outstanding contributions to society of those receiving honorary degrees. We are delighted to acknowledge Tony Fernandes for his entrepreneurial spirit, bringing a low-cost revolution to the Asian airline market. Hee is an inspiration to our students.”
Tony Fernandes and Datuk Kamarudin bought the ailing AirAsia airline for a token 1 Malaysian ringgit (approximately 25 US cents). Initially, it was 40 million ringgit in debt. He was instrumental in democratising air travel in the region and turning the domestic carrier into Asia’s largest successful low-cost carrier by passengers within two years.
On receiving his award, he said: “It’s a great privilege to be awarded this honorary degree by Cranfield, an institution so deeply intertwined with British aviation history and which has such a storied past. With its strong focus on practical application, Cranfield has been a leading light in aeronautics and management since its founding more than seven decades ago, and I am deeply thankful for this recognition.”
Tony studied in the UK at Epsom College and is qualified as an Associate Member of the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants in 1991 and as a Fellow Member in 1996. He began his career in Richard Branson’s Virgin Group before returning to Malaysia as Warner Music Group’s Vice President for Southeast Asia, prior to venturing into the airline business.
For his contributions to aviation, Tony has received numerous honours and awards, including the Honour of the Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 2011 and the Commander of the Legion d’Honneur, awarded by the French government for his outstanding contributions towards the economy of France through the aviation industry.