For any normal human 50 cents (Not 50 cents the rapper/singer) is worthless – for Tony Fernandes it was all he needed to buy his own airline.
When Fernandes bought AirAsia in 2001 from Malaysian conglomerate DRB-Hicom for a single Malaysian ringgit – worth about 50 cents at the time – the carrier was in free fall and plunging deeper into debt by the day.
His cavalier attitude in business and willingness to take a punt on an outside chance made his name. One of his most notable recently was when he bought Premier League football team Queens Park Rangers in 2011. He is currently their chairman and the team is sponsored by AirAsia. A minute's silence was observed at the start of Rangers' Premier League game against Crystal Palace on Sunday for those missing.
But the 50-year-old’s renowned self-belief will be severely tested after AirAsia flight QZ8501 between Surabaya, Indonesia and Singapore went missing with 137 adults, 17 children and one infant on board.
It’s a nightmare now, but he’d dreamed of operating his own budget airline since he was in school, he told the BBC in 2010. His motto, according to the AirAsia website, is: ‘Believe the unbelievable. Dream the impossible. Never take no for an answer.’
Fernandes’ career in business would seem to reflect this. He had a net worth of $US650 million ($A703.27 million) as of February, according to Forbes, which listed him as the 28th richest person in Malaysia.
The entrepreneur, who went to school at Epsom College in Surrey and later studied at the London School of Economics, made sure his first flight with the company – which had just two aircraft when he bought it – was one he was unable to take as a young boy.