AirAsia posted an 11% rise in net profit in 2009 due to an increase in revenue and fall in costs.

For the year ending 31 December, net profit rose 11% to 549 million ringgit ($161 million) from 497 million ringgit, says AirAsia in its unaudited results.

Total revenue increased 11% to 3.18 billion ringgit from 2.85 billion ringgit and cost of sales fell 10% to 1.8 billion ringgit from 2 billion ringgit.

The group increased capacity, as measured by ASKs, by 17% for the year and RPKs rose 14%.

In real terms, the number of passengers rose 21% to 14.3 million from 11.81 million and the passenger load factor fell 0.4 percentage points to 75% from 75.4%.

For the fourth quarter, the group made a net profit of 77 million ringgit compared to a net loss of 202 million ringgit for the corresponding period last year.

"There are early signs that the global economy is stabilising," AirAsia says in its outlook.

"The group has identified nine new routes to launch in 2010 and these new routes, coupled with frequency addition across the existing network" will increase capacity 11-14% for the year.

"The group is focusing on yield management and fine tuning of the current network," it adds.

AirAsia's largest business is its low-cost carrier in Malaysia but it also has affiliates in Thailand and Indonesia as well as long-haul outfit AirAsia X.

Thai AirAsia had a net loss of 809 million Thai baht ($24 million) compared to a net loss of 735 million baht the year before; while Indonesia AirAsia made a net loss of 189 billion rupiah ($20 million), up from 141 billion rupiah.

The group's CEO Tony Fernandes says "Indonesia is in the final stages of its aircraft renewal programme", that involves replacing Boeing 737-300s with new Airbus A320s, and this will help it to reduce costs.

Thai AirAsia has gained substantial market share and "demand for air travel has recovered after a prolonged period of challenges", he says, referring to the political turmoil in Thailand.

AirAsia recently announced that it would be buying into Vietnamese start-up VietJet, which plans to launch operations later this year and draw on the AirAsia brand.

Source: Air Transport Intelligence news