The French government has conferred Tony Fernandes, Group CEO of AirAsia and Co-Chairman of Caterham Group, with the Commander of the Legion d’Honneur award, signifying Fernandes’s outstanding contributions towards the economy of France through both the aviation and automotive industries.
Francois Hollande, President of France conferred the honourable award to Fernandes in a ceremony held yesterday at the Elysée Palace in Paris, France.
The Legion d’Honneur award was established by Napoleon Bonaparte in 1802 to recognize outstanding service of individuals to France, and the Commander of the Legion d’Honneur is the highest rank of honour that the French government can award to a non-French citizen.
“It is truly an honour to be conferred the Commander of the Legion d’Honneur, and I am humbled with the recognition given by the government of France. Both the automotive and aviation industries are incredibly important, not only contributing to the economy of France, but also providing jobs, connecting communities and countries and enhancing livelihoods. While many have seen the recent economic situation in Europe as one of doom and gloom, I see opportunities. I see European people as passionate and committed and the talent that we can work with, especially in France, is a huge advantage to us as we build our companies. This is true for AirAsia and especially for Caterham which is now investing significant sums of money in our 50/50 roadcar joint venture with Renault. This is creating jobs in Dieppe, helping resurrect Alpine, a famous French brand, and bringing further prosperity to the French car industry – something, like aviation, France leads the world in.
“As the Group CEO of AirAsia and Co-Chairman of Caterham Group, I am proud that we are positively contributing both directly and indirectly towards many peoples’ lives in France and across the world. This is great motivation for me to continue to steer both Caterham Group and AirAsia to greater heights, and once again, I am grateful for this incredible honour,” said Tony Fernandes.
Fernandes was previously conferred the Officier of the Legion d’Honneur award by the French Government in 2010.
Caterham Group signed a 50/50 joint venture with Renault in November 2012, creating a business that will design, manufacture and sell a brand new range of Caterham Cars and Alpine models throughout the world from 2016. Further models will come from the joint venture which has seen Caterham Group make significant investment in Renault’s Dieppe manufacturing facility, further demonstrating its commitment to the French economy and long-term prosperity.
The AirAsia Group operates an all-Airbus fleet, with operations based in Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia and the Philippines. This has contributed significantly towards the French and European economies through the European-owned, and Toulouse-based Airbus, an EADS company; with firm orders of 475 Airbus A320s for AirAsia; and 25 Airbus A330-300, and 10 Airbus A350-900 for AirAsia X.
Tony Fernandes co-founded AirAsia and has led the airline in its transformation from a loss-making airline into a global brand today. Under his leadership, AirAsia has grown from two aircraft to 164 aircraft for both AirAsia and AirAsia X, and from 250 staff workforce to nearly 12,000 today.
AirAsia has also flown over 200 million guests in less than 12 years of operations, with an extensive route network that spans across 87 destinations throughout 22 countries.