AirAsia X reported a net profit for the first quarter of 2017, concluding with 31st March, of just RM10.34 million, significantly lower than RM179.49 million from the same period last year, blaming it and the 43% year-on-year decline in operating profits to higher aircraft fuel expenses.
Aircraft fuel expenses were the number one operating cost for the airline and this year they climbed from RM243.06 million in Q1 2016 to RM377.69 million. At the same time, aircraft leasing went up from RM45.64 in last year to RM70.82 million in this year so far.
RASK or revenue per available seat kilometer dropped 6% from 15.11 sen in Q1 2016 to 14.20 in the same quarter this year, while load factors were at 84% or 2 points higher Y-o-Y.
One of the few redeemers for the airline was the 33% growth in passengers carried. This quarter, the airline carried 1.4 million passengers, largely thanks to having more seats available. As a result, the carrier can also boast a 22% higher revenue this year than it was able last year.
At the same time, revenue per passenger was kept at RM150 and freight & cargo revenue increased to RM32.8 million (by 5.9%) in the January-March period this year.
In a press statement, AirAsia X Chief Executive Officer Benyamin Ismail said:
Barring any unforeseen circumstances, including but not limited to terrorist attacks, natural disasters, epidemics, economic downturn, fuel price hike and fluctuation in foreign currencies against the Malaysian ringgit, the company expects its prospects to remain positive.
MAAX CEO added:
Moving forward for the rest 2017, AirAsia X will focus on strengthening our market leadership through a number of strategies. We hope to stretch our aircraft utilisation rate further with more incremental frequencies on high yield point-to-point routes and new routes in the second half of 2017. We have also set targets in ensuring the company remains lean through various cost initiatives and maximize the operational synergies between AirAsia and AirAsia X.
When it comes to other airlines under AirAsia, Thai AirAsia X (TAAX) posted a $5.5 million net profit in Q1 2017, Indonesia AirAsia X (IAAX) only recently resumed operations with two new routes in March after its operations were temporarily suspended in Q1 2017 as part of network restructuring.