Malaysia Airlines (MAS) posted net profit RM876 million in the second quarter ended June 30, 2009, the highest ever quarterly net profit recorded by the airline.

MALAYSIA-AIRLINESThis profit offsets the national carrier’s RM695 million net losses in the first quarter, leading to a first-half net profit of RM181 million.

Due to the oil price recovery since March 31, 2009, MAS’ fuel hedging losses of RM640 million in the first quarter has been reversed with a RM1.3 billion gain in the second quarter, the airline said in a statement.

Since the beginning of the year, the airline has implemented aggressive sales campaigns to deal with the worst crisis facing the industry.

It successfully increased its load factor to 66 per cent in the second quarter, a double digit growth of 10 per cent compared to 56 per cent in the first quarter.

In response to the growing demand, with the domestic load factor up by 69 per cent in the second quarter, it said the national carrier had increased the capacity by six per cent by adding more aircraft for the domestic sector.

The airline also made substantial load factor gain for its international routes with loads up 11 per cent to 65 per cent compared to 56 per cent in the first quarter.

“We are managing well in this crisis. While the operating environment remains tough, the load factors have increased due to our aggressive strategies to boost sales.

“On the domestic front, more passengers are travelling with us,” managing director/chief executive officer Datuk Seri Idris Jala said.

“On international routes, we have performed better than the industry average as we are less dependent on the front end,” he said, adding that the airline forecast booking numbers for the second half of the year are encouraging.

The airline has aggressively pushed sales by offering various fare promotions, ranging from Everyday Low Fares, Weekend Specials, Malaysia Airlines Travel Fair and the MAS Stimulus Package which offers nine fare options covering all classes of travel.

From January to June 2009, internet sales at grew 82 per cent or RM272 million compared to the same period last year.

The MAS Stimulus Package, launched on April 15, registered sales amounting to over RM93 million.

Recently, MAS launched the Asean Pass. Since the soft launch of the pass on June 1, 5,000 passes have been sold, generating RM1.2 million in revenue.

“We will continue to push hard with some 15 sales campaigns planned for Malaysia and over 30 for international. We will also be ramping up our advertising spending for the rest of the year,” Jala said.

To date, Malaysia Airlines Corporate Sales Programme has 1,120 corporate clients who are expected to provide RM400 million revenue.

“We expect the economy to recover next year and are looking forward to take delivery of our new B737-800 in 2010 to capture the expected growth. We are reviewing the aircraft requirements according to supply and demand and realigning our capacity to tap into the growth in demand,” he said.

Jala said MAS would increase its frequencies into key Asean capitals, South Asia, China and offer more flights to certain points in Australia.

In the Middle East, he said, the airline was looking at expanding its services into at least three new destinations.

“We will remain focused on what truly matters – bringing in the sales, and preparing to capture the growth next year. These are challenging times but when the going gets tough, the tough get going. We will emerge out of this stronger, more resilient and a winner,” he added.

In July 2009, Aviation Week announced Malaysia Airlines as one of the top three airlines in the world (together with Singapore Airlines and Lufthansa) capable of weathering the current crisis. — BERNAMA