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Malaysia Airlines closes 2018 with losses 'marginally lower'

Malaysia Airlines has disclosed that it finished 2018 "on a marginally lower loss compared to a year ago".

The privately held airline says in its latest quarterly update, without providing any specific financial figures, that last year was "challenging" as a result of several factors.

These include crew shortages in 2018's second half, intense competition "with supply outstripping demand", and volatility in fuel and foreign exchange rates.

However, the Oneworld carrier says it also saw "encouraging improvements", with unit revenue inching up 2% year-on-year thanks to "improved pricing segmentation". Revenue climbed 1%. Load factor was flat at 78%.

On-time performance improved 2% year-on-year, with the highest monthly figure coming in at 83%. The airline attributes this to improved operational efficiencies in engineering and ground handling.

Over the course of 2018, Malaysia Airlines inducted six new Airbus A350s and six A330-200s formerly operated by Air Berlin.

The A350s are operated on its route to London from its Kuala Lumpur base, while the A330s are used on "higher-density regional routes across Asia-Pacific".

In the last quarter, the carrier officially launched its A380 project, Amal, dedicated to Hajj and Umrah services. Its six A380s operate up to three daily flights to Jeddah and Madinah from Kuala Lumpur.

"Moving forward, with the competitive operating environment expected to persist, we have started a concerted effort to narrow the losses in 2019 through a series of revenue improvements and cost-rationalisation initiatives, as we roll out the next phase of the turnaround plan," states Malaysia Airlines group chief Izham Ismail.

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