KUALA LUMPUR: AirAsia chief executive officer Tan Sri Tony Fernandes has claimed that he was “under pressure” when he uploaded a video attributing the low-cost carrier’s success to the Barisan Nasional government.
In a video posted on his Facebook page, Fernandes claimed he was under “immense pressure from the government” and was told by the Malaysian Aviation Commission to cancel the 120 flights meant to ferry Malaysian voters home on polling day.
“So we put on 120 extra flights which would have carried 26,000 people on top of our normal flights. On top of that, we reduced the ticket prices to make it affordable, RM99 for flights in Peninsular Malaysia and RM129 for flights across the sea to east Malaysia.
“The rakyat was overjoyed and unfortunately that put me under more pressure when it was realised by the government that we were ferrying so many voters.
“That put us again, under tremendous pressure; we had both AirAsia X chairman Tan Sri Rafidah Aziz where we didn’t buckle and we had put in these extra flights to carry the rakyat home at low fares,” said in the video.
Fernandes said AirAsia was in a heavily-regulated industry that required the approval of the government.
“So it is never very easy running an airline and one must always support the government of the day.
“Foolishly, I thought by doing the video which I felt was fairly mutual and factual, and the plane from Kota Kinabalu would appease the government and protect the jobs of AllStars (AirAsia employees) and more importantly, the very essence of allowing 80 million people to fly every year at low fares.
“This is my baby that we’ve built and it is a baby not driven by profits, not driven by my pocket as many had said in their Instagram posts,” he said.