AirAsia CEO Tony Fernandes says he took Singapore Airlines because his flights were full

He shared pictures of himself boarding a Singapore Airlines plane, and the view from his seat, which appeared to be in economy class.

A return economy flight between Kuala Lumpur, where AirAsia is headquartered, and Singapore costs about US$70 on the budget carrier. The same flight with Singapore Airlines typically costs US$60 to US$130 more.

Fernandes’ post drew praise from some users. One wrote: “It is so refreshing to see the CEO of a private airline respect his customer bookings and not find a ‘corporate’ method to shuffle some passengers around.”

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Not everyone is buying Fernandes’ explanation, however.

“Good choice you won’t miss your flight now!” quipped one user. Another wrote: “Don’t lie Tony. Even you don’t wanna fly AirAsia.”

“Lol you had to take @singaporeair because of the seat quality given on your own company @flyairasia,” another user wrote.

Fernandes may well think all publicity is good publicity given he posted a shirtless picture of himself getting a massage at work on LinkedIn. “Got to love Indonesia and AirAsia culture that I can have a massage and do a management meeting,” he wrote in October.

The since-deleted post sparked debate over whether it was appropriate, with some users slamming it as unprofessional and uncomfortable.

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Fernandes took the helm at AirAsia in 2001, after acquiring the then-failing airline from the Malaysian government. Under his management, it became Asia’s fourth-largest airline until the pandemic struck and sparked the bankruptcy of its Japan and Thai operations.

For the past 14 years, the airline has been named the world’s best low-cost carrier by airline review site SkyTrax.

AirAsia did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Business Insider.

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