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KUALA LUMPUR: AirAsia X Bhd (AAX) recorded a 116 per cent higher net profit to RM84.4 million in its fourth quarter of 2017 from RM39 million in the same corresponding quarter the year before.

AAX posted a net operating profit of RM100.1 million in the same quarter, while for the full year 2017, AAX’s revenue grew 17 per cent to RM4.56 billion from RM3.90 billion.

“2017 has been a continuing rebuilding year for AirAsia X where we undertook various initiatives to stabilise the business model.

“The airline is now focused on point-to-point and building fly-thru traffic by leveraging on AirAsia Group network. We have grown North Asia quite significantly in 2017, especially China and Korea.

“There is no more wet lease and charter businesses going forward. On top of that, we have successfully turnaround AirAsia X Thailand and re-launched AirAsia X Indonesia,” said AAX Group chief executive officer Tan Sri Tony Fernandes.

AAX posted quarterly revenue of RM1.22 billion, up 4 per cent from the same quarter last year.

This was achieved on the back of a 12 per cent year-on-year growth in the number of passengers carried at 1.55 million, which was ahead of the 8 per cent Available Seat per Kilometer capacity growth, giving the company a load factor of 83 per cent.

Average base fare was down 8 per cent to RM519 due to lower fares across key markets, in-line with AAX’s load active strategy.

Fernandes said as at end 2017, the company’s USD denominated borrowings was reduced by 4 per cent from USD220.4 million in 3Q17 to USD212.3 million, due to the quarterly repayment of borrowings on finance lease aircraft.

“Cash increased by 2.5 per cent to RM432.7 million at the end of quarter in review. The company’s balance sheet continues to strengthen with net gearing reduced to 0.43 times as at December 2017 from 0.49 times three months ago as a result of lower total debt and increase in cash,” he added.

Both AirAsia X Co-Group CEO Datuk Kamarudin Meranun and Fernandes said AirAsia X delivered a robust operational performance in what was a challenging year cleaning up legacy decisions, flying a record 5.84 million passengers at its highest load factor of 82 per cent.

“AirAsia X Malaysia continued to increase capacity in the fourth quarter to cater demand rising from year-end holiday travel as we seized the opportunity to invest substantial capacity to strengthen our leadership position in our core markets.

“We believe the newly introduced capacity will reap the benefits when it matures. It posted a commendable load factor of 83 per cent in the fourth quarter 2017,” Fernandes said.

He said the fourth quarter revenue was the group’s highest in history at RM1.22 billion, an improvement of 4 per cent year-on-year, as scheduled flights revenue increased 3 per cent, ancillary revenue rose 16 per cent while freight services improved 30 per cent year-on-year.

Moving forward, AirAsia X Group will be adding six leased aircraft in 2018 for a total group fleet of 36 A330s by end 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.

“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 added.

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