SINGAPORE, Jan 24 (Reuters) - Budget carrier Tiger Airways Holdings Ltd, one-third owned by Singapore Airlines Ltd, reported a third-quarter net profit of S$2 million ($1.6 million), the first time in seven quarters it made money.
Despite a boost from its Singapore business, Tiger expects its operating performance to be weaker in the fourth quarter and forecast an operating loss for the year to March 2013, said the carrier, which has associate airlines in Indonesia and the Philippines.
After taking charge in August, new Group Chief Executive Koay Peng Yen struck a deal to sell a stake in its loss-making Australian unit and entered into other partnerships, but faces a big challenge in a fiercely competitive Southeast Asian market.
"We are encouraged by the turnaround in this quarter," Koay said in the results statement on Thursday. "However, we are mindful that the September to December period is traditionally the strongest quarter for the air travel industry, and this has also contributed positively to our performance."
Budget airlines led by AirAsia Bhd and privately held Lion Air have placed massive aircraft orders as they bet on the region's expanding middle class demanding more air travel for years to come.
Tiger reported a third-quarter profit compared to a net loss of S$17.4 million a year earlier. Its nine-month loss contracted to S$30 million, from S$87.9 million a year earlier.
Shares in Tiger have been steady over the past three months and have edged up only slightly over the past year. ($1 = 1.2271 Singapore dollars) (Reporting by Anshuman Daga; Editing by Daniel Magnowski)