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AirAsia CEO criticized for post showing topless massage in meeting

A LinkedIn post by Capital A CEO Tony Fernandes.

Tony Fernandes | LinkedIn

The head of low-cost airline AirAsia has deleted a social media post apparently showing him taking a business meeting while topless and receiving a massage after it sparked heavy criticism.

Tony Fernandes wrote in a LinkedIn post accompanying the picture on Monday: “Got to love Indonesia and AirAsia culture that I Can [sic] have a massage and do a management meeting.”

He said the massage had been suggested by a colleague.

Social media users were quick to criticize the post, with many saying it would make employees uncomfortable and was highly inapproriate. Some expressed bemusement that he would share it publicly, as others said it showed a lack of PR vetting.

“So unprofessional and disrespectful,” wrote one user on social platform X, formerly known as Twitter.

Fernandes is chief executive of Malaysia-based Capital A Berhad, the Malaysia-based group behind AirAsia and other brands. He acquired what was then a struggling low-cost airline from the Malaysian government in 2001 and has since built it into a major regional player flying to more than 150 destinations across 25 countries.

His other ventures have included being the majority shareholder of Queens Park Rangers Football Club and founding the Caterham Formula One Team.

He is a frequest social media user and, since the furor, has posted twice more on LinkedIn, while not referencing the massage post.

“I’m no stranger to crisis and I believe it can only make you stronger and wiser. And you know who your friends and supporters are and who would be the first to throw the stone,” he wrote in a LinkedIn post Wednesday.

CNBC has contacted AirAsia and Fernandes for comment.

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