Fernandes was born in Kuala Lumpur to a Goan (Indian) father, and Kristang mother, Ena Dorothy Fernandes. At a young age, he used to follow his mother, a businesswoman, to Tupperwaredealer parties and conventions. He was educated at Epsom College from 1977 to 1983 and graduated from the London School of Economics in 1987. He worked very briefly with Virgin Atlantic as an auditor, subsequently becoming the financial controller for Richard Branson's Virgin Records in London from 1987 to 1989. Tony was admitted as Associate Member of the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) in 1991 and became Fellow Member in 1996. He is currently a member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW). Upon his return to Malaysia, he became the youngest managing director of Warner Music (Malaysia) Sdn Bhd. As well as being an accountant, Fernandes is an amateur guitarist and also has achieved grade 8 piano which is where his musical inclination lies. He was responsible for revolutionising ethnic music, nasyid and dangdut, bringing them into the mainstream of contemporary Malaysian music. He subsequently became the South East Asian regional vice-president for Warner Music Group from 1992-2001. When Time Warner Inc announced its merger with America Online Inc., Fernandes left to pursue his dream of starting a budget no-frills airline. However, his application for a license from the Malaysian government was rejected
It was through Datuk Pahamin A. Rejab, the former secretary-general of the Malaysian Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Ministry that Fernandes came to meet with then Prime Minister, Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad in October 2001. Instead of starting from scratch, Mahathir advised Fernandes to buy an existing airline instead. AirAsia, the heavily-indebted subsidiary of the Malaysian government-owned conglomerate, DRB-Hicom, was quickly losing money. Fernandes mortgaged his home and...
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