Long-haul Malaysian budget carrier AirAsia X will add aircraft for the first time since 2015 after posting a 121 percent increase in 2017 annual net profit to RM98.9 million ($US25.26m).
Describing 2017 as a “turnaround year”, AirAsia X said passenger numbers rose 25 per cent year-on-year and revenue was up 17 percent to RM4.56 billion for the year ended December 31.
Fourth-quarter net profit more than doubled to RM84.4 million as passenger numbers rose 12 percent and pre-tax profit soared 353 per cent.
Fourth-quarter performance was also strong at AirAsia X Thailand, which generated a net profit for the quarter of $US7.3 million.
The Thai operation’s load factor hit 91 percent, up 13 points, as the tourism industry recovered from the mourning period for late King Bhumibol Adulyadej and passenger numbers grew 27 percent.
But results at the group’s Indonesian associate weakened in the fourth quarter as it was hit by the eruption of Bali’s Mt Agung.
AirAsia X Indonesia posted a net loss of $US918,000, compared to $US297,000 in the previous corresponding quarter.
The group plans to add six leased aircraft in 2018 to bring the total fleet to 36 by the end of the year.
The additional aircraft will be split evenly between the Malaysian and Thai operations.
“This will be the first year that AirAsia X will be adding aircraft since 2015, demonstrating our confidence in the medium-to-long haul low-cost space,” AirAsia X joint group chief executive Tony Fernandes said in the results announcement.
With an overall focus on sustainable profits and growth, Fernandes said AirAsia X Indonesia would concentrate on high-yielding routes as part of the carrier’s turnaround.
“Both North Asia— especially Japan— and India will be a key focus for AirAsia X Group this year as we continue to drive country dominance in our core markets,” he said.
“We look forward to unlock further synergies with AirAsia Group to fully optimise our route network and we are confident of our ability to leverage on our strengths and scale to meet air travel demand.
“With a healthier balance sheet, stronger liquidity and solid forward bookings, it will provide the necessary cash flow required to continue to expand and reinvest in our business as we strive to be the leader in the medium-to-long haul low-cost market.”