In February 2020, AirAsia faced a corruption probe in which Airbus was also involved. The airline was thought to have accepted $50 million from the planemaker and in return, it would place a large aircraft order. This past week however, AirAsia´s CEO Tony Fernandes and Chairman Kamarudin Meranun were cleared in the investigation of the bribery.
On March 20th 2020, Britain’s Serious Fraud Office (SFO) cleared the airline from all allegations and stated that the procurement of the Airbus aircraft was robust and justifiable. Both Tony Fernandes and Kamarudin Meranun returned as CEO and Chairman, and will hopefully lead the airline through these tough times.
AirAsia had faced bribery allegations after Airbus agreed to pay a $4bn fine to settle ongoing accusations of corruption. Airbus allegedly supported a Formula 1 racing team owned by some of AirAsia’s top directors through a $50 million payment. In return, the airline would have placed a 180 aircraft order. The airline firmly denied these accusations, but both the Chairman and CEO of AirAsia stepped down temporarily in order to expedite the review of the accusations. Senior Executive Tharumalingam Kanagalingam stepped in to lead the company and an impartial committee reviewed the allegations and would take action if necessary.
The allegations had a large impact on the shares of the low cost carrier. There shares dropped 11% to 1.27 Malaysian Ringgit. Additionally, AirAsia is, as well as all the airlines around world, struggling to make ends meet because of decreasing demands caused by the COVID-19 virus. Although the airline is a financial sound company, these factors will have an large impact on their growth.