November 27, 2019 / 11:31 AM / 15 days ago

Malaysia's AirAsia swings to net loss as FX fluctuations bite

KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) - Malaysia’s flagship budget airline AirAsia Group Bhd flipped to a loss in its third-quarter, hit by foreign exchange losses and a writedown in the value of currency and interest rate swaps.

A woman walks past an AirAsia counter at Kuala Lumpur International Airport in Sepang, Malaysia, July 22, 2019. Picture taken July 22, 2019. REUTERS/Lim Huey Teng/File Photo

It posted on Wednesday a net loss of 51.4 million ringgit ($12.3 million) for the three-month period ended September, from 915.9 million ringgit net profit in the year ago period.

Revenue was 17.5% higher at 3.1 billion ringgit, however.

In a filing to the bourse, it also recorded a depreciation of right of use of asset, and finance costs for lease liabilities during the quarter.

Among its non-airline businesses, travel and lifestyle arm AirAsia.com and financial services unit BigPay also recorded wider losses.

Cost per unit during the period rose 11% mainly due to increases in maintenance and overhaul, user charges and other operating expenses.

AirAsia recorded one-off gains in the corresponding period last year from the disposal of its remaining stake in a joint venture with travel platform Expedia Group Inc for $60 million, and a 515.4 million ringgit deferred tax asset linked to aircraft disposals during the quarter.

The airline carried 13 million passengers in the three months, 20% higher but load factor - which measures how full planes are - fell 2 percentage points to 84%.

The group said it was positive about ts fourth quarter performance, a seasonally strong period. It is also planning a net fleet growth of 18 aircraft, it said.

The airline received delivery of its first fuel-efficient A321neo this month, that will be operated on populous routes and at airports with infrastructure constraints.

AirAsia has hedged 86% of its fuel requirement for the last quarter of the year at average Brent hedge prices of $60.72 per barrel, and 73% of next year’s requirement at $60.22.

($1 = 4.1700 ringgit)

Reporting by Liz Lee; Editing by Emelia Sithole-Matarise

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