(File pix) AirAsia Group Bhd says its available seat kilometres (ASK) for the fiscal year ended December 31, 2018 increased 14 per cent to 66.26 billion from 58.31 billion, while its revenue passenger kilometres (RPK) rose 10 per cent to 55.96 billion from 50.80 billion in 2017.

KUALA LUMPUR: AirAsia Group Bhd posted a 14 per cent increase in total passengers carried last year to 44.44 million from 39.09 million in 2017.

The low-cost carrier said its load factor decreased three percentage points to 85 per cent from 88 per cent in 2017. 

Meanwhile, its total aircraft fleet increased to 141 planes in 2018 from 116 planes in 2017.

AirAsia said its available seat kilometres (ASK) for the fiscal year ended December 31, 2018 increased 14 per cent to 66.26 billion from 58.31 billion, while its revenue passenger kilometres (RPK) rose 10 per cent to 55.96 billion from 50.80 billion in 2017.

The carrier’s Malaysia operations recorded an 11 per cent increase in total passengers carried in 2018 to 32.33 million from 29.18 million in 2017.

The carrier’s ASK increased 12 per cent to 48.45 billion in 2018 from 43.27 billion, while its RPK rose eight per cent to 41.23 billion from 38.06 billion in 2017.

The group said its capacity grew 16 per cent to 38.04 million seats from 32.85 million seats, while load factor fell to 85 per cent from 89 per cent.

For the fourth quarter (Q4) of 2018, AirAsia Group said its total passengers carried increased 16 per cent to 12.11 million from 10.44 million a year ago. 

“Load factor was recorded at 84 per cent, down four percentage points as a result of a significant increase in capacity. ASK grew by 14 per cent year-on-year. This was in line with our strategy to continuously grow our market share,” it said.

In a separate statement, it said its long-haul unit AirAsia X Bhd’s Malaysia operations recorded six per cent increased in passengers carried to 6.17 million from 5.8 million.

This was mainly driven by the introduction of four new routes in 2018 and continued focus on building market share in core markets, while moving away from non-core countries such as Iran, Nepal and Maldives.

For the Q4 2018, AirAsia X Malaysia passengers carried fell three per cent to 1.5 million from 1.55 million in 2017. 

However, its capacity rose two per cent to 1.91 million seats from 1.88 million seats, while load factor was lower at 78 per cent from 83 per cent.

"The decline in load factor was primarily due to additional capacity being deployed to core markets for the year-end travelling season. 

“In addition, there were impact on several routes in Japan & Indonesia regions, which were hit by natural disasters. 

“Load factor for Kathmandu route was also significantly impacted on the back of gradual route termination done in Q4 18 as well as Nepalese government ban on workers going to Malaysia,” it explained.