Air Mauritius returns to profit for first time in three years

PORT LOUIS, June 12 Thu Jun 12, 2014 11:24am EDT

PORT LOUIS, June 12 (Reuters) - Air Mauritius, the Indian Ocean island's national carrier, returned to profit in the year ended March after cutting unprofitable routes and increasing flights to emerging markets, the company said on Thursday.

It posted a pretax profit of 8.6 million euros for the financial year, after two years of losses. In the year ended March 2013 it made a pretax loss of 2.3 million euros.

Chief Executive Andre Viljoen told Reuters the turnaround came after the airline cut routes to some destinations in Europe such as Milan and Frankfurt and added more services on routes showing potential growth in Asia, Australia and Africa.

That helped lift its passenger numbers to a record 1.33 million in the year through March, the company said, but did not give a comparative figure for the previous year.

Mauritius is a popular holiday destination, famous for its azure waters, white sandy beaches and luxury spas, but the European economic slowdown has weighed heavily on tourism.

Air Mauritius posted earnings per share of 0.08 euros against a loss per share of 0.02 euro a year earlier. The results were released after the stock market closed and the company's stock had closed unchanged on the day at 18 rupees.

The airline said it is studying proposals for a new generation of aircraft from top manufacturers to replace some of its existing fleet. It expects to deliver the first of these new planes in 2017/18. (Reporting by Jean Paul Arouff; Editing by George Obulutsa and Susan Fenton)