February 21, 2018 / 1:28 PM / a year ago

Malaysia's AirAsia X doubles quarterly profit on forex and passenger volume

KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) - Malaysia’s AirAsia X more than doubled fourth-quarter earnings on a more favourable foreign-exchange environment and higher passenger numbers, the long-haul budget carrier said on Wednesday.

Flight attendants of the long-haul carrier AirAsia X watch a performance during the launch of the company's prospectus in Kuala Lumpur June 10, 2013. REUTERS/Bazuki Muhammad/Files

The airline’s borrowing denominated in U.S. dollars dropped in the fourth quarter to $212.3 million, down 4 percent from the previous three months after repayments on leased aircraft.

The year-on-year jump in net profit was helped by forex volatility that had weighed on earnings a year earlier.

Operating statistics for the final quarter, the company’s strongest historically, showed its load factor — a measure of how full aircraft are — improved by 2 percentage to 83 percent, the airline said.

Total passenger numbers were up 12 percent at 1.55 million while the airline increased capacity by 8 percent.

Fourth-quarter net profit jumped 116 percent to 84.4 million ringgit ($21.64 million) on revenue up 4.3 percent at 1.22 billion ringgit.

Revenue was boosted by scheduled flights as well as ancillary and freight services.

Though full-year profit of 98.9 million ringgit fell short of the 130.1 million consensus forecast from eight analysts surveyed by Reuters, shares in the airline closed 1.25 percent up at 40.5 sen.

Co-Group Chief Executive Tony Fernandes said in the statement that the group will add six leased aircraft to expand its fleet to 36 Airbus A330s by the end of 2018.

“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,” he said.

AirAsia X’s Malaysian and Thai units will each add three aircraft this year while the airline continues a turnaround at its Indonesia business with high-yielding routes.

Fernandes said that North Asia, in particular Japan, and India will be a key focus for the company this year.

($1 = 3.9000 ringgit)

Reporting by Liz Lee; Editing by David Goodman

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