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Malaysian low-cost airline AirAsia X expects to return its network to pre-pandemic levels in early 2023. The carrier will announce a number of new routes soon and plans to grow its active fleet from six Airbus A330s now to thirteen in the first half of next year, it said on November 22. AirAsia X back to profitability in September-quarter.

AAX is seeing strong demand on the eleven routes it is now offering. These include Seoul, Delhi, Sydney, Auckland, Tokyo-Haneda, Jeddah, Melbourne, Perth, and Sapporo. The airline also offers some dense short-haul routes since September to Kota Kinabalu, Kuching, and Bali-Denpasar. Traffic to Kota Kinabalu and Kuching was particularly strong and exceeded aircraft capacity, which increased from three to 23 weekly flights during the quarter.

Passenger load factors reached 73 percent in its September quarter, close to 81 percent in 2019. As reported before, AirAsia X was hit hard by the pandemic in 2020 and went into hibernation. After restructuring, it resumed scheduled services in April this year.

AirAsia X reported a RM 25.1 million net profit for the July-September quarter, which it refers to as Q5 after changing its financial year from June 30 to December 31. The current financial year started on July 1, 2021, and runs until December 31, 2022. As such, the Q5 result isn’t comparable to the same period last year but the profit is up from an RM -652.5 million net loss in April-June/Q4. EBITDA was RM 25.4 million.

Revenues were slightly lower at RM 100.1 million versus RM 107.2 million in Q4, which the airline attributes to lower revenues for cargo-only services as more passenger services were resumed. AirAsia X carried 80.385 passengers, up from 8.892 in the previous quarter. Fares were up to on average RM 625

The Malaysian airline ended September with RM 79.5 million in cash, up from RM 25.1 million by late June. “AAX is now well on track in its recovery path even as the airline is compelled to operate in a challenging operational environment dictated by high fuel prices and a weakened Malaysian Ringgit against the US dollar. While we are cautious of the strenuous operating conditions, we remain confident that the recovery of the Company is on the horizon, if not already within our reach”, said CEO Benyamin Ismail in a media statement.

“Despite a higher fare environment, we are confident of still providing the best-valued fares in our category in the market. We look forward to resuming services to more of our mid-range destinations in the coming months. (…) By the end of the year, we expect to be flying over seventy flights per week,” Ismail said. As soon as China will further reopens, AirAsia X expects to return there. In early 2023, AirAsia X will start three-weekly services to Busan, making it the second destination in South Korea.

On November 1, Tony Fernandes announced that he will step down from AAX and Thai AirAsia X (TAAX) as acting Group CEO and Board of Directors to concentrate on leading parent company Capital A. He has been succeeded at TAAX by Tunku Dato’ Mahmood Fawzy.

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Active as a journalist since 1987, with a background in newspapers, magazines, and a regional news station, Richard has been covering commercial aviation on a freelance basis since late 2016.
In 2022, he has gone full-time freelance. Richard has been contributing to AirInsight since December 2018. He is also writing for Airliner World and Aviation News. From January 2023, he will add a part-time role with Dutch website and magazine Luchtvaartnieuws. Twitter: @rschuur_aero.

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