AirAsia Returns to Profit, Bolstered by Cheaper Fuel, Thai Unit

AirAsia Bhd., Southeast Asia’s largest budget carrier by market value, returned to a profit last quarter with the help of lower fuel expenses and a better performance from its Thai affiliate.

Net income climbed 6.9 percent to 149.3 million ringgit ($41 million) in the three months ended March 31, from 139.7 million ringgit in the same period a year earlier, the carrier said in an exchange filing. Revenue fell 0.4 percent to 1.297 billion ringgit.

The company had posted a loss of 428.5 million ringgit in the fourth quarter of 2014.

AirAsia is adding routes and planning share sales for its Indonesian and Philippine businesses as it competes with newer competitors for market share. The airline is seeking to take advantage of rapid growth in the Asia Pacific region, where the number of passengers is projected to increase by nearly 5 percent a year for the next two decades, according to the International Air Transport Association.

Aircraft fuel expenses dropped 9.2 percent to 482 million ringgit in the first quarter from a year earlier, the airline said. Thai AirAsia’s net income jumped more than three-fold to 922.8 million baht ($27 million) in the same period from a year ago.

AirAsia temporarily cut back its marketing earlier this year after an aircraft operated by its Indonesian affiliate crashed in December on a flight to Singapore from Surabaya, killing all 162 passengers and crew.

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