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Malaysia Airports more than triples annual earnings

Operator targets more travelers from China, India and ASEAN

Passengers line up at a check-in counter in the low-budget airline terminal of Malaysia's Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA).   © Getty Images

KUALA LUMPUR -- Malaysia Airports Holdings net profit more than tripled in 2017 from the previous year, due to higher passenger numbers and aircraft movements, the company said Wednesday.

In a stock exchange filing, the country's dominant airport operator logged a net profit of 236 million ringgit ($60 million) in the fiscal year ended Dec.31, compared to 70 million ringgit the year before. Revenue rose 11.5% to 4.65 billion ringgit.

The net profit was achieved despite a 6.8% increase in costs, the group said.

Passenger traffic grew by 8.5% to 96.5 million, a record for the group, which operates nearly 40 airports in the country. Kuala Lumpur International Airport handled 58.5 million passengers or 60% of the total traffic, of which 30.3 million passengers passed through the budget KLIA 2 terminal that mainly serves AirAsia. Growth was driven by the easing of visa rules for Chinese and Indian tourists, as well as pilgrimage traffic to Saudi Arabia by the Muslim-majority population.

Total aircraft traffic grew by 4.5%, supported mainly by international flights.

On a quarterly basis, net profit declined by 16.4% to 27 million ringgit in the October to December period, dragged down by the increase in total costs.

Revenue from overseas, which includes operations in wholly-owned Istanbul Sabiha Gokcen International Airport and Qatar, grew 14% to 1.2 billion ringgit. Passenger traffic in Turkey grew 5.6% to 31.3 million people, while aircraft movements declined by 4%.

The group projected 6.3% passenger traffic growth in 2018, hoping that foreign travelers -- especially those from China, India and Southeast Asia -- will form 75% of the over 100 million targeted. Growth will also be supported by a tourism promotion campaign and the Digital Free Trade Zone in KLIA, a partnership with Chinese online retailer Alibaba Group Holding aimed at turning Kuala Lumpur into an e-commerce transshipment hub for the region.

Shares of Malaysia Airports rose 3% to 8.89 ringgit, while the benchmark FTSE Bursa Malaysia KLCI ended 0.12% higher on Wednesday.

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