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AirAsia to expand fleet by 21 per cent

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KUALA LUMPUR: AirAsia said it would increase its fleet by 21 per cent in the second half of the year, in one of the fastest pace of expansions for the Malaysian low-cost airline, after reporting record quarterly revenues on rising travel demand.

The group, which saw its second-quarter net profit crater mainly due to a one-off charge, said it planned to add 22 planes to its fleet - at 106 as of end-June - through a combination of finance and operating leases in the second half of this year.

"This will be one of the fastest pace of expansions in the last few years, made possible due to the favourable competitive and operating environment of aviation in Asia," AirAsia said.

The airline said it was projected to achieve an average load factor - a measure of how full planes are - of 88 per cent in the third quarter based on the existing forward booking trend.

"For the remaining quarters of this year, we remain optimistic as we continue to observe strong demand across most sectors coupled with a stable fuel price and foreign exchange environment," AirAsia said.

The airline reported a 73 per cent year-on-year drop in second-quarter net profit to RM92.45 million (S$29.3 million), including a one-off deferred tax charge that offset the impact of higher passenger numbers and load factor. But its revenue hit RM2.38 billion, up from RM1.62 billion a year ago. - REUTERS