Malaysia Airlines posts 4Q loss, sees tough times

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KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) — Malaysia Airlines said Tuesday it suffered its fourth straight quarterly loss in the three months ending in December, and warned of tougher times ahead as its full-year loss expanded nearly three-fold from the previous year.

The bigger loss in 2013 may throw Malaysia Airlines off track from its plan to become profitable by the end of 2014.

The flag carrier said it recorded a net loss of 343 million ringgit ($104 million) in the quarter, compared to a 51.4 million ringgit profit a year earlier. It blamed a declining ringgit, unrealized foreign exchange losses and higher operating and finance costs.

For the full year, losses ballooned to 1.17 billion ringgit ($354 million), nearly three times larger than the 433 million ringgit loss in 2012.

"The full-year performance of making a bigger loss in 2013 compared to 2012 demonstrates the challenges brought on by intensifying competition leading to lower yields for all players," it said in a statement.

"Going into 2014, Malaysia Airlines expects the business environment to remain challenging with high fuel prices, volatile foreign exchange and intense competition impacting yield from both existing as well as new entrants into the market," it said.

The carrier said its capacity increased by 17 percent last year and it carried 27 percent more passengers than a year earlier but its profit margin was depressed by increasing competition as Middle Eastern and European carriers expanded into Asia.

Revenue rose 10 percent from a year earlier to 15.1 billion ringgit ($4.6 billion) in 2013 but operating costs also surged 10 percent due to higher fuel prices and the weaker ringgit.

Malaysia Airlines said it will focus on cutting costs and building traffic and revenue.

"Many airlines are investing heavily in new aircraft and new products and services. This has resulted in a significant increase in capacity and aggressive competition in fares and value proposition to attract and keep market share," it said.

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