Well not Air Asia exactly but QPR, the football team that has Air Asia’s boss, Tony Fernandes as its main shareholder, was promoted back to the Premier League at the weekend.
The economics of football can seem to defy logic but the investment in QPR by Mr Fernandes originally made a great deal of sense. The British Premier League is hugely popular throughout Asia with many games shown live on television. Air Asia is a major sponsor of QPR and its logo and billboards are highly visible on matches played at their ground. However, beyond that, every time the team is mentioned in Asia it is referred to as “Tony Fernandes’ QPR” or “Air Asia’s QPR”. The investment in the football club has been huge but the benefit in hidden advertising might even make the cost look good value.
This is not the first time QPR have won promotion to the Premier League under Mr Fernandes’ watch though. When they were originally promoted, the club went on an orgy of over-spending to ensure they stayed in the division. The club was taken to the cleaners by various football agents and others. They hired the wrong people to run it and paid for their mistakes by being demoted after just one season.
Mr Fernandes cannot claim to be a hands-off owner. He attends many matches and appears genuinely passionate about the club. The serious mismanagement of the football club coincided with a period when Air Asia was going through a bit of a dip as well. Too much expansion, not enough thought. Mr Fernandes almost god-like status as a business hero in Asia was looking seriously tarnished.
Now, after just a year away, the football club is back. Maybe its constant presence on Asian television will help bring back some of the glitter to the airline’s performance.