AirAsia Wi-fi on Board

Malaysian low-cost carrier group AirAsia saw quarterly profits after tax drop by 17% to RM252.76 million.

The airline cited adverse movements in exchange rates on US dollar-based borrowings.

“This does not represent the financial performance of the business but merely an accounting entry,” the carrier said.

Revenue for the three months to the end of December of RM1.35 million was unchanged over the same period in 2012 despite passenger numbers rising by 14% to almost 6 million.

The overall group – including subsidiaries in Thailand, Indonesia and the Philippines – posted revenue of RM8.65 billion for the full year.

Currency impact in Indonesia caused a small decline in operating profit at RM1.33billion.

The group carried 42.6 million passengers in 12 months, matching its growth in capacity.

Airline founder Tony Fernandes forecast that the associate carriers in Thailand, Indonesia and the Philippines will one day be larger than the original AirAsia as the growth prospects are far greater than Malaysia.

Seven aircraft orders this year and 12 in 2015 have been deferred with an intention to swap them for new fuel-efficient Airbus A320neos, he revealed.

Unspecified job cuts are planned this year as the company looks at “aggressively focusing on automation”.

“The outlook for 2014 is strong as we have set targets for ourselves in ensuring the company remains lean through various cost initiatives,” said Fernandes.

The company plans to drive business travel by having AirAsia inventory on GDS and improving customer relation management. “Passengers can also look forward to enjoying new healthy meals, Wi-Fi on board, prepaid currency exchange card and a revamped duty free business,” said Fernandes while outlining plans to ramp up ancillary revenues.