Malaysia Airlines in the red again with net loss of almost $68m

KUALA LUMPUR (AFP) - Struggling flag carrier Malaysia Airlines said on Tuesday that it has recorded a second consecutive quarterly loss after failing to overcome drag from earlier borrowings.

The airline said it made an operating profit of 7.9 million ringgit (S$3,1 million) in the second quarter ending June 30 but still ended up with a net loss of 175.2 million (S$67.81 million) mainly due to unrealised foreign exchange losses.

This improved on the 348.7 million ringgit loss in the same period a year ago, before the carrier moved into the black for the second half of 2012.

But in a statement, the airline said it was confident it would repeat last year's pattern as "traditionally the second half of the year is better compared to the first half".

"We are pleased that we have been able to bring in an operating profit in Q2 this year. Previously in 2012, we only saw an operating profit in Q3 and Q4," said chief executive Ahmad Jauhari Yahya.

The airline added that net loss for the first half of 2013 was down 12.7 per cent to 453.8 million ringgit compared to 520.1 million in the corresponding period last year.

Operating revenue for the quarter increased 12 per cent to 3.59 billion ringgit year-on-year on the back of a 29 per cent increase in passenger traffic to 4.2 million.

Last year, the carrier admitted it was in "crisis", forcing it to implement a cost-cutting campaign centred on slashing routes and other measures.

This left it with a 433 million ringgit net loss for the 2012 financial year, a marked improvement from a record 2.5 billion loss in 2011.

Analysts have blamed a combination of stiff competition, poor management, change-resistant unions and government interference for the carrier's poor performance.

But Mr Ahmad Jauhari insisted the company is "on track with our business plan (unveiled at the end of 2011) to turnaround our group and build sustainable profit by end 2014."