AirAsia founder Tony Fernandes is likely to step down from the company at the end of his newly-renewed contract, which runs for another five years, calling it his “final chapter”. 

In a letter to shareholders, Fernandes, who is CEO of Malaysia-based Capital A, confirms that a “robust succession plan” is already in place. 

Fernandes 2024

Source: AirAsia

Tony Fernandes speaking in Kuala Lumpur in 2024.

“We have elevated leaders to key positions, supported by a robust second line behind them. Above all, I value passion and hunger in our team members and believe we have the right people in place to drive us forward,” he writes. 

At 2023’s Paris air show, Fernandes shrugged off retirement rumours, telling FlightGlobal in an interview that his focus was to bring the group back to growth. The rumours came about following another interview where he was said to be “preparing to step back from the front lines”. 

In his latest letter, Fernandes, who founded AirAsia 23 years ago, says his remaining five years as leader are “crucial”, adding: “I aim to steward our various business verticals towards their peak potential in my roles…[this] five-year chapter began last year with the formation of a robust succession plan.”

His comments come as Capital A disposes of its aviation business - previously known as AirAsia Aviation - to medium-haul affiliate AirAsia X, forming AirAsia Group. 

In the lead-up to the divestment, the group has seen several leadership changes, including the appointment of two deputy CEOs for the aviation business, which is being led by airline veteran Bo Lingam. 

Fernandes has been instrumental in diversifying AirAsia’s business from being a purely airline group, via initiatives such as a ‘super-app’, and logistics and digital payment services. The renaming of its parent company as Capital A was part of that diversification effort.