AirAsia X is still confident that demand “will pick up towards the end of 2020”, though the group acknowledges that it has “no clear visibility on the timing of recovery”.

In the meantime, the long-haul low-cost operator expects to remain in “hibernation mode”, maintaining “minimum connectivity” with “essential cargo and charter flights”.

Highlighting its talks with partners and creditors to reschedule payments, reduce costs, and renegotiate contracts to ensure cash preservation, it vows to “emerge stronger under the new norms post-Covid-19”.

It updated its outlook as it disclosed financial results for 2020’s first quarter, in which revenue fell 21% to MYR924 million ($218 million). Passenger numbers fell a quarter to 1.14 million, while seat capacity was cut 15%.

The group’s operating loss deepened from MYR29.5 million to MYR158 million. At the net level, it made a loss of MYR550 million, compared with a profit of MYR43.3 in the same period of 2019. AirAsia X attributes the worse result to “the consequential impact of the Covid-19 pandemic”.

AirAsia X Malaysia reduced its first-quarter ASK capacity 21%, scaling back its Chinese operations in early February and ultimately suspending all scheduled operations from 28 March. AirAsia X Thailand had done the same from 16 March.

The Thai unit made a net loss of $27.1 million in the quarter.

AirAsia X Malaysia chief executive Benyamin Ismail describes the situation created by Covid-19 as “unprecedented” and states that the company “remains proactive in implementing measures to cut cost and conserve cash”.