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

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

The company posted a net profit of RM 25 million ($5.5) in the three months ending in September, compared with a net loss of RM 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 weakening Malaysian ringgit against the US dollar,” said Benyamin Ismail, chief executive officer. from AirAsia X Malaysia. in a sentence. “While we are cautious about the grueling operating conditions, we are confident that the company’s recovery is on the horizon, if not already within our grasp.”

With the recovery in travel demand, 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 operates 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 rising domestic demand in Malaysia. The group has been gradually redeploying its fleet, with a total of 108 of its aircraft returning to the skies from August and an additional 52 aircraft coming online later this year.

Airlines have been among the hardest hit by the pandemic, as governments around the world have imposed lockdowns and restricted cross-border travel to slow 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 peaked in 2020, according to estimates by the International Air Transport Association.

Fernandes, who recently stepped down as CEO of the AAX group 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. The partners dropped out of last year’s ranking of the 50 richest people in Malaysia.

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