AirAsia’s Tony Fernandes ventures into Formula 1

By Aparajita Gupta, IANS,

Kuala Lumpur: Goan origin entrepreneur Anthony “Tony” Francis Fernandes, owner of no-frills air carrier AirAsia, has forayed into Formula 1 Racing in Malaysia, and says this sport will be a sell out in India.

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“The beauty of Formula 1 is that it creates world class champions, it creates engineers, marketing people. That’s why I did it,” said Fernandes, whose father is a Goan who was born in Kolkata and migrated to Malaysia.

“We have to allow our children to think they can be world champions,” the 46-year-old chartered accountant by training told IANS here, adding the reason why he forayed into the sport is it helps develop human resources and offers a lot of business opportunity.

Narrating his experience, he said people like Vijay Mallya, the chairman of UB group and Kingfisher Airlines, bought an existing team, called Jordon and renamed it Force India.

“But I had to build everything from scratch,” he said, adding “from the business aspect, I think, Formula 1 is in right position. Next year there is a race in Delhi”.

The track will be located 40 km southeast of the Indian capital.

“A lot of the world is yet not interested in Formula 1. But it will change. Definitely in India it will be sold out,” he said, maintaining that thus far Formula 1 was a European game.

“With 200 million Indians and Asians watching it, there is a lot of revenue opportunity. Cost is going to go down. It’s a good business. We can help develop our own people in it,” said Fernandes who was in the music business for 14 years before buying AirAsia.

His other businesses include a mobile phone business called Tune Talk and a financial services business known as Tune Money.