AirAsia operating profit up 12% in 2011

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Malaysian low-cost carrier AirAsia increased operating profit by 12% to M$1.2 billion ($393 million) in 2011 compared with M$1 billion the previous year.

Revenue for the twelve-month period ended 31 December increased 13% to M$4.47 billion, up from M$3.94 billion in 2010. Core net income grew 18% to M$880 million, rising from M$794 in the same period a year earlier.

Pre-tax profit fell against the prior year, however, down to M$794 million from M$1.1 billion in 2011.

Group chief executive Tony Fernandes said the carrier's positive performance came despite a 36% increase in fuel costs.

Cost per available seat per kilometre on the Malaysian operation (CASK) increased 6% to M$0.13, but, if fuel costs are excluded, CASK fell 13% to M$0.6.

Traffic grew in the period by 14% year-on-year, on capacity that was increased by 7%. Load factor rose by two percentage points as a result.

Meanwhile, associate airline AirAsia Thailand, in which AirAsia holds a 49% stake, posted revenue of Bt15.9 billion ($515 million) in 2011, up 32% on 2010's figure of 11.9 billion.

The company attributes the revenue growth to higher passenger volumes, an increased contribution from ancillary income and improving yields during the year. Pre-tax profit was flat at Bt2,04 billion, against Bt2.01 billion the year before.

AirAsia Indonesia, in which AirAsia also holds a 49% stake, saw revenue grow by 34% to Rp3.7 trillion ($409 million), boosted by a 28% increase in traffic. Capacity was increased by 29% during the year, although load factor remained stationary at 77%.

Operating profit fell 53% to Rp150 billion against Rp312 billion in 2010 on higher fuel prices and the provision for early return of aircraft.

This in-turn resulted in a 61% decline in its core net income to Rp94.9 billion.

Pre-tax profit stood at Rp62.1 billion, down from Rp474 billion a year earlier.

Operations at the group's new associate airlines, AirAsia Philippines (in which AirAsia has a 40% stake) and AirAsia Japan (49%), will begin in the first and second halves of 2012, respectively, it said.