Malaysian budget carrier AirAsia Group Bhd has postponed its fourth-quarter earnings release by about a month, just as its closed Japan unit starts bankruptcy proceedings.
The airline confirmed that it has delayed the results announcement to the end of March, from initial plans to release the figures on Thursday February 25.
Malaysian market regulators have granted listed companies temporary relief measures in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
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AirAsia in a bourse filing said that its 33%-owned Japan unit, which ceased operations last October, has begun bankruptcy proceedings.
The airline will recognise a loss of $74.1 million in its 2020 second half financial results, from intercompany financial assistance and loans deemed irrecoverable.
The company also incurred expenses of $5.2 million in the fourth quarter last year and first quarter of 2021 related to aircraft de-registration to move three aircraft from Japan to Malaysia, it said.
AirAsia has been locked in tough negotiations with plane maker Airbus, with which it has some 400 planes on order across its group.
Reuters reported citing sources that discussions focussed on whether AirAsia, one of Airbus's largest customers, could not only delay deliveries but also seek a partial return of deposits.
A person familiar with the matter said that the talks on fleet reorganisation are "very tense".
Last year, auditors EY raised doubt on the carrier's ability to continue as a going concern due to the COVID-19 impact on the travel industry.
This week, Hong Kong businessman Stanley Choi Chiu Fai took up new AirAsia shares from a private placement, raising his stake to 8.96% held through Positive Boom Ltd, bourse filings showed. Shares in AirAsia rose 16.6% following the news.
"While the prospects for the air travel industry and airlines have improved significantly following the large-scale rollout of COVID-19 vaccines globally, we are still mindful of the urgent need for airlines, including AirAsia, to recapitalize their balance sheets," AmInvestment Bank said in a research note.
Losses Deepen For AirAsia X
In other AirAsia-related news, AirAsia Group affiliate long-haul budget carrier AirAsia X's net loss widened by 82% in the fourth quarter, it has said in a stock exchange filing, for a seventh straight quarterly loss as operations remain grounded because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The airline recorded 174.3 million ringgit ($43.06 million) in losses for the October-December period, compared with 95.8 million ringgit in the same quarter a year ago.
Revenue plunged by 95% to 54.7 million ringgit.
AirAsia X is seeking a restructuring of its debt.
Last week, a Malaysian court granted it leave to convene meetings with creditors to vote on a plan to reconstitute 64.15 billion ringgit of debt.
"This decision by the court to allow the company to seek concessions from its creditors represents an important step forward in the restructuring process," AirAsia X said.
The airline has plans to raise up to 500 million ringgit via new equity funding from existing and new investors to provide sufficient capital to restart operations when international borders reopen.
The proposed fundraising exercise, however, is dependent on the restructuring plan succeeding.
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