AirAsia X: Strong Growth Momentum Continues in Q1 2024

An AirAsia X aircraft climbing steeply after takeoff
Mehdi Nazarinia (GFDL 1.2 or GFDL 1.2), via Wikimedia Commons

AirAsia X Berhad (AAX) has entered 2024 on a high note. The long-haul low-cost carrier has reported impressive financial results for the first quarter (Q1) ending March 31, 2024.

Overall, the airline has shown a robust growth trajectory which has continued across the opening quarter of the year.

Revenue and Passenger Demand

AAX’s revenue climbed 66% year-over-year (YoY) to RM908.9 million in Q1, fueled by a 90% YoY surge in passengers carried (959,623). This growth reflects a strategic capacity increase, with available seats reaching 1,155,788.

Capitalizing on key festive seasons and school holidays, AAX achieved a solid Passenger Load Factor (PLF) of 83%, a 3% YoY improvement.

Routes to China, India, and Japan boasted the highest PLFs, exceeding 90%. Additionally, AAX’s Available Seat Kilometers (ASK) witnessed a 74% YoY jump, aligning perfectly with robust market demand.

Revenue Streams Diversify

Q1 saw ancillary revenue per passenger soar to a record-breaking RM251, reflecting a 3% YoY growth.

This achievement is attributed to innovative product offerings tailored for specific markets, enhanced personalization features, and a streamlined booking flow.

AAX further boosted this segment by collaborating with SANTAN to introduce popular food and beverage (F&B) options.


AAX delivered a net profit of RM80.1 million in Q1, boasting an impressive profit margin exceeding 8% of revenue.

The airline’s Cost per Available Seat Kilometer (CASK) remained the industry leader at 13.93 sen/US¢2.95, demonstrating exceptional cost efficiency.

This represents an 11% reduction compared to the previous quarter, primarily driven by lower operating expenses, including a decline in jet fuel prices, and a strategic increase in ASK capacity.

An AirAsia X aircraft at Kuala Lumpur Airport
Arnaud-Victor Monteux, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Network Expansion Strengthens Position

Committed to regaining market leadership, AAX strategically increased flight frequencies to popular Chinese destinations like Chengdu, Beijing, and Shanghai.

Additionally, the airline ramped up services to the leisure hotspot of Bali, Indonesia. Overall, AAX delivered an impressive 85% YoY increase in the number of stages flown (3,184), averaging 135 weekly flights in Q1.

AirAsia X Thailand Takes Off

AirAsia X Thailand (TAAX) also reported strong performance. Revenue surged 52% YoY to RM543.4 million, while a foreign exchange loss of RM55.8 million impacted net profit, resulting in RM46.4 million.

However, at a normalized level, TAAX would have posted a net profit of RM102.2 million, reflecting an 11% YoY increase. Operationally, TAAX witnessed a 51% YoY rise in passengers carried (437,764), leading to a robust PLF of 89%, up 1% YoY.

Demonstrating healthy market demand, TAAX’s seat capacity and ASK capacity surged by 49% and 37% YoY, respectively.

Fleet Optimization and Future Growth

AAX maintains its 18-strong A330 fleet, with 16 currently operational. TAAX reactivated an additional aircraft during the quarter, bringing its operational fleet to six out of seven total A330s.

AirAsia X CEO Benyamin Ismail anticipates the remaining two aircraft to rejoin the operational fleet by July and November 2024. Additionally, the company is actively securing future fleet requirements to support growth ambitions.

Ismail expressed optimism about the recently announced extension of China’s visa-exemption policy until 2025.

He highlighted the strong PLFs in China (around mid-90s) since route relaunch and the success of the new Almaty route in Central Asia, consistently exceeding 90% PLF.

Looking ahead, Ismail emphasized the significance of the Airbus A321XLR aircraft on order. This aircraft, with its extended range and lower operating costs compared to the current fleet, unlocks exciting growth opportunities.

Its reduced capacity allows for more network flexibility and exploration of secondary routes. Ultimately, the A321XLR is expected to lower the break-even point, further enhancing profitability.

Fly-Thru Connectivity and Strategic Alliance

AAX reported a 22% Fly-Thru connectivity rate, led by Australia and India, demonstrating increasingly encouraging synergies with the broader AirAsia Group.

This paves the way for the company’s ambitious growth plans, including the ongoing discussions with Capital A Berhad for a potential acquisition of Capital A’s aviation business.

This proposed merger would create a powerful global low-cost network carrier group under the “AirAsia” brand.

The combined entity would benefit from significant synergies through centralized decision-making and a coordinated network strategy.

An Indonesia AirAsia flight gets a water cannon salute at Kota Kinabalu
Photo Credit: AirAsia

Furthermore, the acquisition would grant AAX access to Capital A’s order book of over 400 new aircraft deliveries.

This access is crucial in the current climate of limited growth opportunities due to supply chain constraints impacting aircraft deliveries.

While acknowledging the traditionally softer travel period in the coming quarters, AAX remains confident. The company is encouraged by recent fare trends and a strong cost structure.

AAX plans to optimize aircraft utilization to maintain top-tier efficiency throughout this period.

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By Len Varley - Assistant Editor 6 Min Read
6 Min Read
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