AirAsia X achieved a slight improvement in profits for the first quarter, which the airline attributes partly to its route restructuring efforts.

The group’s net profit of RM43.3 million in the quarter was up by 4% year-over-year (YOY). Capacity was down 5% as the airline suspended some longer single-route markets, and instead increased service to core markets where it has more flights.

AirAsia X has terminated flights to Tehran, Kathmandu, Male in the Maldives, and Auckland. It has redeployed this capacity to China, Japan, South Korea and India.

The main Malaysia-based unit is taking “a more modest approach to its operations” in the first quarter of 2019, Group CEO Nadda Buranasiri said.

Although the Malaysian operation added two more aircraft in the first quarter, it is keeping expansion in check to focus on yields. This unit will not receive any more aircraft in 2019.

The Thai unit of AirAsia X will receive five aircraft this year, including its first two A330neos. The Thai operation is growing fastest in the group, with capacity up 38% in the quarter and revenue growing 23%.

Group revenue dropped to RM1.2 billion in the first quarter compared to RM1.3 billion in the same period a year earlier. Load factor declined by one percentage point to 83%, and unit revenue fell by 4%. Unit cost decreased 3%, mainly because of lower average fuel prices during the quarter.

Adrian Schofield, adrian.schofield@informa.com