KUALA LUMPUR - Malaysia Airlines said Wednesday it lost 2.52 billion ringgit (S$1,047 million) last year largely due to soaring fuel costs, admitting the flag carrier is "in crisis" but confident of recovery.
The airline posted its fourth straight quarterly loss - this time of 1.28 billion ringgit for the quarter ending December 31. This compares to net profit of 226 million ringgit for that period a year ago.
Despite the loss, the carrier said revenue increased slightly two per cent, to 13.90 billion, and it carried 1.3 million more passengers compared to the previous year.
It added that its performance was impacted by a 21 per cent surge in year-on-year costs largely because of a 33 per cent rise in the fuel bill on the previous year.
The full year loss compares to a net profit of 234 million ringgit a year ago.
Malaysia Airlines said it expected "challenging" times ahead amid high fuel costs though it was hoping for a recovery.
"The results make for unpleasant reading. The company is in crisis," chairman Mohamad Nor Mohamad Yusof said.
"The board and I remain confident that we now have a team and business plan in place that will bring the necessary sacrifices to ensure a turnaround and recovery," he added.
The airline has struggled to stay in the black in recent years and in December unveiled the latest in a series of plans aimed at working its way back to profitability by 2013.
It includes a "route rationalisation" that already has seen it eliminate routes servicing various cities in Europe, South Africa, the Middle East and Asia.
The plan also would entail launching a new regional premium airline by the second half of 2012 that would service Southeast Asia and "key cities in South Asia and Greater China."
However, some industry analysts have criticised the latest scheme, especially the wisdom of launching a premium carrier in a challenging market.
In August, Malaysia Airlines and its fierce rival, budget carrier AirAsia, announced a surprise alliance aimed at eliminating head-to-head competition and allowing each to focus on their core markets.
Under the deal, AirAsia would concentrate on lower-cost short-haul routes, while Malaysia Airlines could focus on long-haul flights.