In 2001, Tony Fernandes and Dato Kamarudin Meranum bought the failing government-owned Malaysian Airline – AirAsia – for one Ringgit. 1 They launched their new venture as a short-haul, low-cost Malaysian carrier, with just two aircraft and a lot of debt.

Fifteen years later AirAsia, with its sister long-haul airline AirAsia X was the largest low-cost carrier in the Asian region and the founding company of the Tune Group, a corporate portfolio under the ownership and guidance of the original founders – Fernandes and Memorandum. Other ventures in the Group include: Tune Hotels, Tune Talk, Tune Money, Tune Sport, Tune Labs, Tune Protect, Tune Studios, Epsom College, and Caterham Cars, among others

Corporate Strategy

Fernandes and, to a lesser extent, Meranum were highly visible owners who appeared regularly on websites and in the media promoting the group, its services, and philosophy. Always smiling and sporting baseball caps the founders set out to serve the rising class of the less well-off in Asia by offering relentlessly low prices without comprising on service quality. According to the group website, the philosophy behind their winning formula was constant innovation on the service offer, through an intimate understanding of what would appeal locally, plus efficient, low-cost use of the internet as a channel to
engage with potential consumers. All this was achieved through a fun, high-energy attitude reflecting Fernandes, media personality (and his baseball cap), with the purpose of changing the lives of Asia’s under-served customers – an ambition that appeared achievable as after a little more than a decade, Tune Group planes were carrying around 32 million customers a year.