Tycoon Tony Fernandes’ AirAsia X returns to black amid post-pandemic travel recovery

AirAsia X (AAX) — the long-haul airline unit of Malaysian tycoons Tony Fernandes and AirAsia Group’s Kamarudin Meranun’s budget carrier — returned to the black amid a surge in travel demand following the gradual resumption of international travel after the pandemic.

The company posted a net profit of 25 million ringgit ($5.5 million) in the quarter ended September, compared with a net loss of 652.5 million in the previous quarter, AAX said in a statement on 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 statement. “While we are cautious about the difficult operating conditions, we remain confident that the company’s recovery is on the horizon, if not already within our reach.”

With travel demand recovering, AAX said the company 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 has nine Airbus A330s and plans to add four more aircraft to its fleet by the first half of 2023.

AAX and its parent AirAsia Group are benefiting from the revival of international air traffic and increased domestic demand in Malaysia. The group is gradually redeploying its fleet, with a total of 108 of its aircraft returning to the skies from August and a further 52 aircraft entering service by the end of this year.

Airlines have been hit hardest by the pandemic as governments around the world imposed lockdowns and restricted cross-border travel to limit the spread of the virus over the past three years. Global airlines are expected to return to profitability next year after losing about $189.5 billion in the three years since the depths of the pandemic in 2020, according to estimates by the International Air Transport Association.

Fernandes — who recently stepped down as group CEO of AAX to focus on returning AirAsia Group to profitability — and Kamarudin took over the airline in 2001 to create a low-cost carrier that would make air travel affordable. transfers. The partners dropped out of last year’s ranking of Malaysia’s 50 richest people.

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