Following the recent controversy regarding AirAsia’s working environment, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of AirAsia Group Tan Sri Tony Fernandes has come forward to apologise for the behaviour of AirAsia Thailand’s CEO Tassapon Bijleveld during the airline’s virtual town hall meeting. The 2-minute video that has been shared on the internet sparked public outrage and criticism after Tassapon dropped the f-word and told his female staff to “shut up”.
The town hall meeting was said to be attended by approximately 500 people that include Tony Fernandes, AirAsia Digital President Aireen Omar, and Head of E-Commerce Lim Ben-Jie. Many commented on the reactions of the two AirAsia leaders who were seemingly smiling and allowed the situation to slide.
Tassapon had issued an apology video two weeks after the town hall. Fernandes also said that Tassapon’s remarks had shocked everyone in the virtual call. He revealed that as soon as the call was over, the female staff was called in as he then apologised and reassured her.
Tony Fernandes in his interview with The Vibes said that he has spoken to Tassapon regarding his unprofessional behaviour. “This is not the culture we want in AirAsia. What he did was wrong and he apologised. We are the most diverse organisation around and have been at the forefront of creating a diverse community and a safe working environment,” Fernandes remarked although he did not explain the reason why he did not defend the female staff during the incident.
While stressing that Tassapon’s action was wrong, Fernandes also denied the sexist allegations made towards Tassapon as the Thai CEO is known for reprimanding staff regardless of their gender. “Of course the language used was not right but I know Tassapon. He would say the same thing to a male staffer,” Fernandes told The Vibes.
Fernandes added that the matter has been brought to the board of directors and it is up to them to make a decision regarding the situation. AirAsia Group Berhad’s communications unit also remarked that it has a zero-tolerance policy in regards to any inappropriate behaviour of the staff and the matter is being dealt with.
“AirAsia Group has a zero-tolerance policy towards inappropriate behaviour of any kind, which is never compromised. We are aware of the incident and it was dealt with immediately in the appropriate manner. We apologise to anyone affected and will ensure it doesn’t happen again,” said the airline company.
Tan Sri Tony Fernandes also asserted that he hopes the viral recording video of the town hall meeting will not create negative public perception towards the company.