Malaysia Airlines (MAS) posted a 876 million ringgit ($250 million) net profit in the second fiscal quarter due to fuel hedging profits.

It actually made an operating loss of 421 million ringgit for the three months ending 30 June but a 1.38 billion ringgit gain from fuel hedging contracts pushed it into the black, MAS says to the Malaysian stock exchange.

This meant it made a net profit of 876 million ringgit compared a 62 million ringgit net profit for the corresponding period last year, it says.

MAS' operating revenue in the period fell 32% to 2.5 billion ringgit from 3.7 billion ringgit.

This is below operating expenses which came in at 3.0 billion ringgit, down 19% year-on-year from 3.7 billion ringgit.

"The group recorded an operating loss of 421 million ringgit for the second quarter ended 30 June 2009 mainly due to lower operating revenue in line with the declining trend in global travel and cargo movements resulting from the current economic downturn," it says.

Airline operating revenue fell 52% to 2.3 billion ringgit from 4.8 billion ringgit and cargo operating revenue fell 49% to 380 million ringgit from 739 million ringgit, it adds.

MAS says: "The outlook for the third quarter of 2009 is expected to remain soft."

"While there are some signs of improving economic climate, the airline industry is still faced with weak demand and downward pressure on yields. The operating environment remains volatile with the H1N1 pandemic impacting travellers' confidence."

It says: "To overcome the soft demand and adverse competitive environment, MAS continues to fast track the implementation of its

business transformation plan."

MAS also says it "has aggressively pushed sales by offering various fare promotions."

The airline's CEO, Idris Jala, says: "We are managing well in this crisis."

"While the operating environment remains tough, the load factors have increased due to our aggressive strategies to boost sales." "On the domestic front, more passengers are travelling with us [and] on the international routes, we have performed better than the industry average as we are less dependent on the front end".

He says: "We expect the economy to recover next year and are looking forward to take delivery of our new Boeing 737-800s in 2010 to capture the expected growth."

Jala says: "We will increase our frequencies into key ASEAN capitals, South Asia, China and offer more flights to certain points in Australia."

"In the Middle East, we are looking at expanding our services into at least three new destinations," he adds.

Source: Air Transport Intelligence news