AirAsia CEO Tony Fernandes has drawn criticism after he posted a photo of himself shirtless and getting a massage while conducting a work conference call with his management team.
Fernandes took to social media channel LinkedIn to share his “love” of AirAsia culture on October 16, 2023.
The post has since been deleted, but not before it had been saved by many people, immortalizing the social media gaffe.
“What a stressful week, and Veranita Yosephine suggested a massage. Got to love Indonesia and AirAsia culture that I can have a massage and do management meeting. We are making big progress and I have now finalized Capital A structure. Proud of what we have built and never lose sight of the finish,” the airline chief said in his post.
As part of the post, Fernades tagged Veranita Yosephine, the CEO of AirAsia Indonesia.
Despite AirAsia being known for its very casual culture, the post has drawn plenty of criticism, with many calling his behavior unprofessional and calling the CEO “smug” to be flaunting his privilege in this way.
Aviation blog View from the Wing even drew comparisons between Fernandes and American sex offender Jeffrey Epstein. The blog posted a 2002 photograph of one of Epstein’s victims giving former US President Bill Clinton a massage, though the former president was fully clothed in the photo.
Other comments were more sarcastic, with one Facebook user saying that Fernandes is a true representative of a budget airline, saving money by not wearing a shirt and demonstrating time management and multi-tasking skills.
Fernandes purchased budget airline AirAsia from the Malaysian government for less than a dollar in 2001. The carrier was then failing, and Fernandes turned it into a highly successful, publicly listed low-cost carrier.
Known for his contrary and informal approach to business, Fernandes has been dubbed Asia’s equivalent of Virgin’s Richard Branson.