AirAsia Group's Q1 operating profit up 46 per cent

Soaring fuel prices notwithstanding, AirAsia Group posted a 46% year-over-year increase in first-quarter operating profit to Malaysian Ringitt (MYR) 241.72 million ($79.4 million). Higher profits come on the back of a 20% increase in revenue to MYR1.05 billion.

However, its MYR171.93 million after-tax profit was down 23%.

CEO Tony Fernandes hailed the operating result as "excellent" and noted that what is "particularly significant for us is that our operating profit margins were also significantly higher year-on-year, demonstrating that we are maintaining tight control of costs even as we grow revenues."

The airline maintained a "strong load factor at 80%, grew our EBITDAR margins by 3 percentage points to 38% year-on-year and we increased our cash balance to MYR1.8 billion" Fernanades said in a statement.

EBITDAR margins for Malaysia AA, Thai AA and Indonesia AA were up 38%, 22% and 37% year-on-year, respectively.

Fernandes said that an increase in ancillary revenue helped offset fuel price rises. "We have raised our ancillary charges on certain products and that has been able to offset much of the pressures on margins," he explained.