Malaysia Airlines halves first-quarter operating loss

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Malaysia Airlines halved first-quarter operating losses to RM165 million ($54 million), during a three-month period in which revenues rose by 14% to RM3.5 billion.

But its net loss deepened by more than 60% to RM279 million. The company attributes this mainly to an unrealised foreign-exchange loss of RM21 million compared with a gain of RM200 million in the previous year.

"Higher financing costs for its fleet renewal programme also contributed to the overall net loss," the company adds.

It achieved a 17% increase in passenger traffic over an 11% hike in capacity, lifting seat load factor to 76.6%. Expenditure was up 8% to RM3.7 billion.

Malaysia Airlines Group chief Ahmad Jauhari Yahya says the strong operating performance has enabled the carrier to "essentially stop the bleeding".

But he adds that the carrier still has "a lot of work to do" in order to align costs to revenue and improve yields and productivity.

Malaysia Airlines conducted a rights issue to raise RM3.1 billion from shareholders, and the carrier says this puts its balance sheet on a "very strong footing", adding: "This gives us wider options to implement a growth strategy for this challenging business environment."