Lotus' Tony Fernandes Gets Officier of the Legion d'Honneur Title

Most Formula One fans know Tony Fernandes because of his position as team principal for Lotus F1 Team, as his figure was virtually unknown to them until a few months ago, when the Malaysia-backed team announced its return to the Great Circus. However, the 46-year old is mainly a businessman and runs a successful airline company named AirAsia.

Apparently, his AirAsia business got Fernandes “the highest rank of honor that the government of France can award to a non-French citizen,” thanks to his company's great contribution to the aviation industry, as mentioned in a statement released by Lotus F1 Team on Thursday.

AirAsia Group CEO and Lotus Racing Team Principal Dato’ Sri Dr. Tony Fernandes was today conferred the title of Officier of the Legion d’ Honneur by the government of France for his outstanding contributions to the aviation industry. Mr. Dominique Bussereau, Secretary of State for Transport of France, conferred the title on Tony in a ceremony held in Paris and attended by some of the biggest names in European business,” said the press release.

AirAsia has contributed largely to the French and European economies by supporting the European-owned and Toulouse-based Airbus, an EADS company. (...) AirAsia, which has hubs in Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia, has democratized travel in the ASEAN region. It connects all 10 ASEAN capitals and more cities with “sky bridges”, linking and benefiting countless communities,” added the statement.

When initially deciding to take on a team principal role with Lotus F1 Team, Fernandes admitted that he only did it to guide the first steps of the team in the series, after which he'd leave someone with a better knowledge of F1 to take care of the team. A few months later however, he decided to do a full year in command of Lotus F1, aiming to finish as the best new team of 2010.
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