:Capital A Berhad, parent of Malaysian budget airline AirAsia, returned to profitability in the fourth quarter, benefiting from strong pent-up demand for air travel and said China’s reopening would further improve its business.
AirAsia said on Tuesday it expects 150 of its aircrafts to be operational by the end of March, aiming to have its entire fleet in the skies by the end of the third quarter this year.
“China’s reopening will further boost our aviation business’ recovery and our aim is to return to pre-Covid capacity by the year-end,” Capital A Chief Executive Tony Fernandes said in a statement.
Airlines including AirAsia recorded a string of losses in the recent past as COVID-19 lockdowns brought the airline industry to a stand-still.
But carriers are now returning to profitability cashing in on a return in travel appetite.
Capital A posted profit attributable of 256.2 million ringgit ($57.12 million) for the quarter ended Dec. 31, 2022, compared to a loss of 756.6 million ringgit posted a year ago.
The budget carrier posted an annual loss attributable of 2.48 bln ringgit which narrowed from 2.99 billion ringgit a year ago.
Singapore Airlines, Qantas Airways and Air New Zealand have all posted profits in the latest quarter.
Like rivals Malaysia Airlines and Vietnamese budget carrier VietJet Aviation, AirAsia is bracing for an influx of Chinese tourists as COVID restrictions are dismantled.
CEO Fernandes said the company was on track to complete its restructuring efforts and aims to resolve its PN17, or ‘Practice Note 17’, status and submit a remedy plan in April.
Capital A was in January 2022 classified as a PN17 company by the Malaysian bourse, a tag given to financially distressed firms which can be de-listed if they fail to regularise their finances within a set time frame.
($1 = 4.4850 ringgit)