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Pick-up in Malaysian traffic helps AirAsia return to Q4 profit

[KUALA LUMPUR] AirAsia Bhd reported a return to fourth-quarter profit on Friday, boosted by strong passenger numbers at its home base in Malaysia and low fuel costs.

Asia's largest budget airline made a net profit of RM554.2 million (US$131.73 million) in the three months, compared with a net loss of RM428.5 million in the same period in 2014. Revenue rose to RM2.17 billion from RM1.48 billion.

The jump in revenue was on the back of a 10 per cent rise in the passengers on its Malaysian routes, the company said in a statement.

"In Malaysia we are benefiting from the weaker currency environment that has led to local consumers trading down when going on their travel and other nationalities looking at Malaysia as a value for money holiday destination," AirAsia Group Chief Executive Tony Fernandes said in the statement.

He said the airline benefited by the low fuel price. As of now, the group has hedged 52 per cent of its fuel requirement for 2016.

The company, which has grown from a two-plane operation in 2002 to become a billion-dollar business, set up a US$1-billion financing plan through a multi currency medium-term note programme last month, months after it faced calls to shore up its financing in still tough operating conditions.

In November the airline said that major shareholders were evaluating "all strategic options" following a Reuters report that the airline's chief executive was seeking investors to take it private.


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