Wednesday 29 February 2012

MAS losses soar to RM2.5 Billion

PETALING JAYA, Feb 29 — Malaysia Airlines recorded a stunning net loss of RM2.52 billion for 2011 and the company is now in “crisis”, the national flag carrier said today.

The carrier also confirmed that the losses for the 2011 financial year were the largest in its history.

The airline reported a massive net loss of RM1.28 billion in the fourth quarter, which was about as much as the first three quarters combined.

“The company is in crisis,” said Malaysia Airlines (MAS) CEO Ahmad Jauhari Yahya in a statement.

Ahmad said that the losses were due to higher expenses including a 25 per cent increase in fuel expenses and a 50 per cent increase in non-fuel expenses.

The company’s cash reserves more than halved to RM1 billion at the end of last year from RM2.1 billion at the end of 2010 and net assets plunged from RM3.5 billion to RM1.1 billion.

Jauhari said that the company would now focus on executing the business turnaround plan that was announced in December.

The business turnaround plan projects the airline to improve its performance in 2012 to somewhere between breakeven and a net loss of RM165 million.

The current high cost of oil, however, could throw a spanner in the works as the turnaround plan had assumed fuel costs of US$130 per barrel and MAS said that prices for fuel had already hit US$138.

The airline said that fuels costs had increased by 25 per cent last year to RM305 million.

Other major expenditure that MAS said contributed to the loss included provisions for the redelivery of aircraft (RM602 million), impairment of freighters (RM314 million) and stock obsolescence (RM179 million).

Revenue, meanwhile, was up marginally from RM13.5 billion in 2010 to RM13.9 billion in 2011.

MAS reported a net profit of RM234 million in 2010.

It noted today that it paid US$95 per barrel of oil (ex-hedging) in 2010 as compared with US$133 per barrel in 2011.

“Obviously, this was a large loss,” said Ahmad referring to the 2011 results.

He said that the outlook for 2012 was challenging with passenger and cargo segments expected to remain weak.

Ahmad said that immediate action plans include strengthening the airline’s balance sheet, winning back customers by introducing branded customer experiences and more aggressive marketing, relentless cost focus and launching its new regional airline by the middle of the year.

MAS has had a turbulent past decade after the government bought back the airline from former corporate high-flyer Tan Sri Tajudin Ramli at RM8 per share or about double the market price at the time.

Jauhari said that the company would now focus on executing the business turnaround plan that was announced in December. — file pic
The airline was at the time saddled with a debt that was reported to be as high as RM9.5 billion.

It then had its books cleaned up in 2002 under the wide asset unbundling (WAU) exercise that was engineered by the BinaFikir consultancy, then led by Khazanah managing director Tan Sri Azman Mokhtar.

The state-owned airline had two rights issues since the WAU, raking in RM1.6 billion in 2007 and RM2.67 billion in 2010 to fund its operations and fleet purchases.

It was also lacklustre financially, shocking the market with huge losses last year even while rivals such as Singapore Airlines reported profits, albeit reduced.

The national carrier also suffered the indignity of having its market capitalisation surpassed by younger upstart AirAsia after its share price fell to record lows.

Under the share swap unveiled on August 9, AirAsia’s main shareholder Tune Air Sdn Bhd swapped a 10 per cent stake in the budget carrier for a 20.5 per cent share of MAS in a move that appeared to be aimed at helping turnaround the national carrier.

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