AirAsia posts losses in Q4 due to higher costs and weaker currency

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia – Southeast Asia’s top budget carrier, AirAsia, said Thursday it suffered a net loss of 428.51 million ringgit ($120 million) in the quarter ending in December, hit by higher costs and a weaker currency.

It was a reversal from a net profit of 169 million ringgit ($47 million) in the same period a year earlier, and was its first quarterly net loss in two years.

The airline said revenue rose 16 per cent to 1.48 billion ringgit ($414 million) for the quarter but operating costs including wages, aircraft maintenance and airport landing charges were higher.

It said foreign exchange losses of 647.6 million ringgit ($181 million) and higher taxes also contributed to the losses.

For the full year, net profit shrank 77 per cent from 2013 to 82.8 million ringgit ($23.2 million).

“We have seen the competition becoming more rational in the second half of 2014,” AirAsia Chief Executive Tony Fernandes said in a statement. Fares began to rise in the fourth quarter, up 13 per cent from a year ago, after falling for five consecutive quarters.

Fernandes said the crash of an AirAsia plane off Indonesia in late December had an impact on demand “slightly in the beginning of the year but we are seeing it recovering well now.”

Fernandes said AirAsia Indonesia’s focus would be international routes, with the recent launch of long-haul arm Indonesia AirAsia X being a catalyst for the Indonesian operations.

He also said AirAsia will defer aircraft delivery this year to focus on strengthening its operations. It will take delivery of five aircraft to Thailand, India and Japan, down from 18 last year.

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