Tony fernandes is regarded as asias many marketing-savvy business owners, often drawing comparisons with richard branson, the brit business owner behind virgin along with his one-time coach and manager.

The malaysian tycoon bought airasia at under $1 in 2001 and turned it into one of many largest low-cost carriers in the region.

He built their empire utilizing lots of the publicity-friendly strategies that sir richard became famous. in 2013, he made headlines once the virgin manager clothed as an airasia journey attendant in lipstick and fishnet stockings after losing a bet. announcements of brand new plane sales at atmosphere shows often resemble variety reveals featuring cabin staff in airasias purple uniforms.

However now, mr fernandes is dealing with one of his toughest difficulties as the coronavirus pandemic pummels his company.

Airasia x, their long-haul flight, is saddled with rm63.5bn ($15.3bn) of debt and earlier on this thirty days it revealed a restructuring plan to cope with severe exchangeability limitations. airasia xs deputy chairman informed neighborhood media during the weekend the system had go out of money, incorporating it absolutely was liquidating its indonesian business and recording its 49 per cent risk in thai airasia x. the long-haul hands share cost features plunged 77 percent this present year.

Line chart of share price in malaysian ringgit showing airasia

Airasia, the center of mr fernandess empire, is dealing with unique struggles and the air companies share price features dropped 65 percent in 2020. the company has drawn out of japan and its indian flight, a joint venture using the tata group, has arrived under renewed scrutiny after reports the malaysian business had ended financing it. mr fernandes denied the claim.

The crisis has actually forced airasia to seek monetary support through the malaysian federal government the very first time. in 19 years, weve never [had] any prerequisite to ask for a government-backed loan, mr fernandes informed the financial instances. this is entirely off covid, where we lost plenty of your sales.

Mr fernandess troubles tend to be indicative of existential challenge dealing with the flight sector, with travel constraints wiping completely traveler traffic around the globe.

But some experts in addition advise the team has actually overstretched, even if a failure continues to be unlikely.

Airasia quit japan months after ey, the teams auditor, stated the pandemic had cast significant question in the carriers ability to carry on as a going-concern. ey said that in 2019 financial year, airasia registered a net loss in rm283m and its own existing debts surpassed present possessions by rm1.84bn.

Mr fernandess businesses stay under an umbrella organization labeled as tune group, with divisions ranging from the air companies to insurance coverage, professional soccer and resort hotels.

Mr fernandes andkamarudin meranun, their longtime company lover, jointly hold 32.18 % of airasias stocks via tunelive, an investment keeping business, and tune air, tune groups flight unit.

Tune group is airasia xs largest shareholder with a risk of 17.83 per cent, followed closely by airasia at 13.76 percent. mr fernandes keeps a 2.69 percent risk in airasia x.

Mr fernandes has become concentrating on the flight after years of high-profile forays into various sectors. airasia is the most important child in my opinion therefore thats in which the majority of my focus are, he stated.

The tycoon who is hardly ever seen without their trademark red airasia baseball limit purchased the lotus formula one racing team in 2010 and per year later obtained queens park rangers, the english soccer team, from bernie ecclestone, the previous f1 boss.

Qpr had been relegated from the premier league in 2013 and after winning marketing to the very best tier of english baseball, had been directed once again in 2015.

Mr fernandes quit f1 in 2014, as he marketed the team before it collapsed into administration.

Both f1 and football are highly speculative. ultimately its not simply how much effort and money you add engrossed, every thing needs to fall-in location and youve reached be lucky, stated mr ecclestone. he had been probably trying to do excessively. not the right folks make use if youve got money and i also believe in his case [that] is really what occurred. hes not an idiot so far as company is worried by any means.

The existing crisis has actually highlighted three underlying challenges for mr fernandess company: the long-haul products persistent underperformance; the companys huge plane fleets; additionally the trouble of sustaining the international network.

Airasia x was struggling before the pandemic hit, in accordance with analysts, which indicate the issue of making an inexpensive strategy viable for a long-haul airline. since detailing in kuala lumpur in 2013, the system has subscribed a full-year net profit simply twice.

If [mr fernandes] trapped to simply short-haul as well as simply stuck to malaysia...then he'd be a solid force, said a banker who has got formerly caused the airline.

Airasia can be encumbered by an enormous aircraft fleet and has now some 350 airbus narrow-body aircraft on order. it's the second biggest customer for airbuss well-known a320 single-aisle aircraft.

We've been sceptical about [the] absolute amount of orders they put for some time, stated sash tusa, an analyst at agency partners. when an airline gets therefore big it begins putting requests that are much bigger than comparable airlines, it is the right time to get very, really concerned.

Mr tusa forecast that just 60 aircraft would-be delivered before the end of 2027.

Mr fernandes earlier this month said he in the offing to return as numerous airasia airplanes as you possibly can and slice the fleet by 25 % to 180 plane.

The pandemic has additionally renewed questions about the companies hostile overseas development. airasia at its level...arguably was south-east asias largest affordable carrier, stated paul yong, an analyst at dbs. products in malaysia and thailand were many successful but going into indonesia and also the philippines was a tougher idea because there had been already other leaders.

Mr fernandes admitted that business could leave even more markets. for the continuing to be five air companies there may come a place in which we must maybe exit one but that point hasnt [arisen] however, he stated.

Experts indicate asia, where the business is in need of recapitalisation.

Neelam mathews, a brand new delhi-based aviation analyst, said the outlook for the flight ended up being pretty dismal, adding that competition would become more aggressive after the pandemic.

Line chart of traveler load element (percent) showing covid-19 hits airline travel demand

Mr fernandes, but sees signs of hope in asia. domestic vacation in thailand and malaysia correspondingly, for example, reach 80 percent and 60 per cent of airasias pre-pandemic levels, he stated.

He additionally hopes airasias brand-new awesome app a one-stop vacation, e commerce and fintech platform would be a path to better insulating the company through the hits usually suffered by airlines.

Its a cyclical company in-between volcanoes and tsunamis, he stated.

Services delivered on app are broadened from malaysia toward rest of south-east asia within the next 3 months.

Regardless, experts say the flight is unlikely to collapse.

The low-cost provider model post-covid are going to be as resistant as it was prior to as well as stronger in accordance with full-service companies, stated mr yong.

Mr fernandes will no doubt additionally fall straight back from the directing company maxims he described in the memoir discover a way out of the morass.

Im a black and white individual, which could get myself into trouble...you want to lead through clarity, maybe not manipulation, he typed.