AirAsia Bhd is adding 12 aircraft to its fleet through operating leases in the fourth quarter of 2017, its fastest pace of expansion in recent years as net profit in the three months ended Sept 30 soared.For the fourth quarter of 2017, the airline said strong demand will continue to be observed across most of its operating sectors despite a travel alert issued due to the eruption of Mount Agung in Indonesia.AirAsia, Asia’s biggest low-cost carrier, has operating units in Indonesia, Thailand, the Philippines, India and Japan. It also has a long-haul sister company AirAsia Bhd.The group is projected to achieve an average load factor of 87% in the fourth quarter based on the existing forward booking trend, AirAsia said in a filing with Bursa Malaysia.The projection is at par with the load factor in the third quarter.Net profit jumped 43% to RM505.3mil in the three months ended Sept 30 from RM353.9mil a year ago. Revenue increased to RM2.45bil from RM1.69bil previously.In the consolidated accounts combining our Malaysia, Indonesia and Philippines units for the third quarter, we managed to overcome higher fuel costs with remarkable revenue growth of 15% year-on-year, its chief executive officer Tan Sri Tony Fernandes said in a statement.We believe that 2017 will be another record year for us, he added.AirAsia said the growth in revenue was attributable to a 12% increase in total passengers carried despite a marginal decrease in load factor to 87% compared with 88% in the same three months last year.Average fare decreased 2% to RM172 from RM176, while the overall revenue per available seat km was flat at 14.76 sen.During the quarter, the group has delivered an additional 1,425,576 seat capacity, which represents an additional 14% growth in seat capacity, it said.This was achieved on the back of a 4% increase in total fleet size of the group to 110 aircraft in the third quarter.Meanwhile, the total net operating profit of the group decreased 8% year-on-year to RM374.2mil from RM405.5mil in the third quarter of 2016. The decrease was mainly attributable to depreciation charges and an increase in maintenance costs.Cash inflow from operations was at RM605.2mil, compared with an inflow of RM419.3mil in the immediate preceding quarter ended June 30, 2017. Net cash inflow in the quarter amounted to RM118.7mil.Total debt as at the end of September was RM9.6bil. The group’s net debt after offsetting the cash balances amounted to RM7.4bil.In a separate statement, AirAsia said it is offering assistance to non-profit organisations and medical personnel who require air transport assistance to flood-affected states in Kelantan and Terengganu.
Source: Civil Aviation Authority, Qatar.