AirAsia X reports four-fold quarter one profit jump, record high revenue

KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) - Malaysia's long-haul budget carrier AirAsia X Bhd AIRX.KL logged a four-fold jump in quarterly profit on Tuesday, courtesy of higher passenger volume and shrinking costs.

FILE PHOTO: An AirAsia X Airbus A340 passenger jet arrives on its inaugural flight from Kuala Lumpur to Paris Orly Airport February 14, 2011. REUTERS/Charles Platiau/File Photo

Net profit for the January-March quarter rose to 41.5 million ringgit ($10.47 million) from 10.3 million a year earlier while revenue rose 7.2 percent to a record 1.3 billion.

AirAsia X saw an increase in passenger volume of 13 percent which the carrier attributed mainly to new routes started since mid-2017.

Moving capacity from some Australian routes to flights to the North Asian market also helped.

AirAsia X said its cost per unit fell 2 percent year mainly due to the ringgit MYR= strengthening against the dollar.

The ringgit strengthened 4.5 percent in the first quarter, helping offset a rise in oil prices.

Its average fuel price rose 33 percent to $88 per barrel, the airline said. Excluding fuel, it cut its costs per unit by 10 percent.

“The company recognizes the challenges posed by the recent hike in fuel prices, and best mitigative efforts are being put forth through the boost in ancillary and capacity numbers,” the airline said in a bourse filing.

AirAsia X maintained an unchanged load factor - the measure of how full its planes are - of 84 percent while expanding capacity by 14 percent.

It carried 1.59 million passengers in the quarter.

AirAsia X’s share price closed 1.3 percent higher.

Last week the shares were under pressure as some investors were concerned about the company’s relationship with a new government following the shock defeat of Prime Minister Najib Razak’s ruling coalition.

Tony Fernandes, the group CEO of its parent, recently accused the Malaysian Aviation Commission of pressuring the airline to cancel flights meant to transport voters home for a recent general election.

The regulator has denied the allegation and filed a police complaint against Fernandes.

Reporting by Liz Lee; editing by Himani Sarkar and Jason Neely