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AirAsia operator Capital A records loss in Q4 as higher costs weigh

By Rishav Chatterjee

(Reuters) -The parent company of Malaysian budget airline AirAsia, Capital A, on Thursday, reported a loss for the final quarter of 2023, reflecting higher operating and financing costs while logging its first annual net profit since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Net loss attributable for the three months ended December came in at 159.6 million ringgit ($33.66 million) compared to a profit of 109.9 million ringgit a year ago.

Capital A shares ended the day 3.5% lower at 0.69 ringgit apiece.

The company is currently getting ready to list its unit, which is the licensee of the AirAsia brand, on NASDAQ after finalising a $1.15 billion SPAC merger.

The firm, which is currently consolidating its long and short-haul brands under one brand, reported a surge in operational costs – mainly aircraft fuel expenses – during the quarter.

Aviation fuel charge surged to 1.96 billion ringgit from 963.27 million ringgit, while maintenance and overhaul expenses more than tripled to 862.41 million ringgit from 177.90 million ringgit.

Air travel has been getting more expensive in the recent past as prices of jet fuel have been on the rise, hurting airline companies around the world.

The company, however, posted a net profit of 507.6 million ringgit for the year ended December, compared with a loss of 3.3 billion ringgit a year ago, helped by sustained demand for travel and associated services.

Capital A has been categorised as “PN17” or financially distressed by Malaysia’s stock exchange since it was hit hard by travel restrictions during the pandemic.

Brokerage Kenaga Group said it is mindful of Capital A’s financially distressed status, but the company has seen recovery post the pandemic.

However, analysts at Maybank said they think “more has to be done to uplift PN17 classification.” ($1 = 4.7420 ringgit)

(Reporting by Rishav Chatterjee in Bengaluru; Editing by Savio D’Souza and Tasim Zahid)

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