AirAsia X (AAX) – the long-haul airline unit of Malaysian magnates Tony Fernandes and Kamarudin Meranun’s low-cost carrier AirAsia Group – has returned to the black amid a surge in travel demand following the recovery gradual increase in international travel after the pandemic.
The company posted a net profit of 25 million ringgit ($5.5) in the three months to September, compared with a net loss of 652.5 million in the previous quarter, AAX said in a statement Tuesday.
“AAX is now well on its way to recovery, even as the airline is forced to operate in a challenging operating environment dictated by high fuel prices and a weakened Malaysian ringgit against the US dollar,” said Benyamin Ismail, CEO of AirAsia X Malaysia. in a report. “While we are cautious about the challenging operating conditions, we remain confident that a business recovery is on the horizon, if not already within reach.”
With travel demand picking up, AAX said the company has increased flight frequencies to international cities such as Seoul and Delhi, while resuming flights to short-haul domestic destinations such as Kota Kinabalu and Kuching. The airline currently operates nine Airbus A330s and plans to add four more aircraft to its fleet by the first half of 2023.
AAX and its parent company AirAsia Group are benefiting from the recovery of international air traffic and increased domestic demand in Malaysia. The group has been gradually redeploying its fleet, with a total of 108 of its planes returning to the skies in August and 52 more planes becoming operational by the end of this year.
Airlines have been among the hardest hit by the pandemic, with governments around the world imposing lockdowns and restricting cross-border travel to curb the spread of the virus over the past three years. Global airlines are expected to return to profitability next year after losing some $189.5 billion in the three years since the pandemic’s low point in 2020, according to estimates by the International Air Transport Association.
Fernandes – who recently stepped down as CEO of AAX Group to focus on returning AirAsia Group to profitability – and Kamarudin took over the airline in 2001 to build a low-cost carrier that would make air travel affordable . The partners dropped last year’s ranking of Malaysia’s 50 richest people.