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Queens Park Rangers & AirAsia: Moving Up Together

History was made at Wembley Stadium on 24th May 2014 when Queens Park Rangers forward Bobby Zamora delivered a 90th-minute winner at the Sky Bet Football League Championship Play-Off Final against Derby County, landing QPR a promotion to the prestigious Premier League.

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Bobby Zamora and the Sky Bet Championship play-off final trophy. Image courtesy of the official QPR Flickr page.

A Cinematic Finish 

“This is stuff that movies are made of,” said QPR Chairman Tony Fernandes of the victory, which brought the West London club back to top-flight status in just one season. It was QPR’s biggest moment since Fernandes took over as chairman of the club in 2011, the same year QPR began its partnership with AirAsia. 

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Tony Fernandes assuming chairmanship of QPR at the club’s home stadium at Loftus Road in 2011. Image courtesy of the official QPR Flickr page.

     QPR has seen countless triumphs and disappointments throughout its 132-year history, and its undeniable heritage has brought generations of Hoops supporters together. Indeed, many movies can be made of its heroes and the journey so far. The last few years have been particularly dramatic. QPR won the nPower Championship in April 2011, securing promotion to the Premier League, only to narrowly escape relegation in the next season. After a string of setbacks, Harry Redknapp took over the reins from Mark Hughes as manager in November 2012, but enough damage had been done and the eventual relegation dealt a massive blow to the club. 

      Despite this downturn, the fans kept the faith and the players delivered when it mattered most. The 2013/2014 season started well for QPR, but injuries landed the team in fourth place at the start of the play-offs. Despite the odds, the R’s pulled through and made it to Wembley, where 40,000 blue-and-white flags showed the solidarity of the QPR community, and fans rallied online, declaring #weRtogether. Surviving the season became about finding a way out of the toughest situations and pulling through when it was absolutely necessary, bringing this remarkable chapter to an incredible close, a moment to remember for years to come. 

Reversal of Fortune 

The squad’s recent success is reminiscent of the AirAsia story, which is now a classic business case study in Asia. From an ailing airline with two old aircraft and RM40 million in debt 13 years ago, AirAsia pulled off a turnaround in just a year after Tune Air bought it for a token RM1. The turnaround comes in large part from the never-say-die attitude embodied by the Allstars, AirAsia’s over 12,000-strong staff who live by motto of Fernandes, who is AirAsia Group CEO: “Believe the unbelievable. Dream the impossible. Never take no for an answer.” 

     Today, AirAsia’s 150 planes fly to over 80 destinations. It has flown over 220 million guests and has been named the World’s Best Low-Cost Airline by Skytrax for five years running. 

Now Everyone Can Fly High 

Fernandes saw in QPR in 2011 what he saw in AirAsia in 2001—great potential. Although both QPR and AirAsia have their fair share of naysayers and cut-throat competitors, they have proven that with fighting spirit and sheer determination, even underdogs can come out on top. 

     The strategy also depends in large part to the people behind the scenes. Inspired Allstars thrive in a culture of fun and innovation. At QPR, the fans are very vocal in the social media sphere, helping to boost the community’s sense of pride in their club.   

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AirAsia cabin crew with QPR mascot Jude the Cat during the QPR Asia Tour in 2012.

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Queens Park Rangers livery arriving at AirAsia’s main Kuala Lumpur hub in 2012.

     AirAsia is proud to continue its relationship with QPR as shirt sponsor and supports coaching clinics to help nurture the club’s young talents. 

     Things are looking up at Loftus Road, now that the R’s are back up in the Premier League where they belong. All eyes will be on QPR as they battle it out with the best of English football. In partnership with AirAsia, it’s time for QPR to fly. The best is yet to come.