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AirAsia Profit Surges On Thai Share Sale

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AirAsia reported full year profit more than tripled, thanks to a share sale of its Thai business.

AirAsia, Asia's largest budget airline by passengers, reported full-year profit of MYR1.88 billion ringgit (USD$606.65 million).

Core net income was slightly higher at MYR858.23 million ringgit in 2012 from MYR850.70 million a year earlier mainly on higher passenger volume and average fare.

AirAsia said in its accounts it booked a gain of MYR1.16 billion ringgit for the Thai AirAsia share sale last year.

AirAsia is shifting from a period of rapid expansion into new markets and placing jet orders to build a modern fleet, to taking delivery of those planes and focusing on making its routes profitable.

The Malaysian company competes with Indonesia's Lion Air to dominate cheap air travel across the continent, and multi-billion dollar orders from both have boosted aircraft sales at Airbus and Boeing.

AirAsia's next move is a planned joint venture with Tata to start flying in India later this year, a market the airline has described as the "final piece of the puzzle".

"The main focus for the next few years will still be the three core markets - Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia," group chief executive Tony Fernandes said in a statement on Tuesday. "Then grow Japan and Philippines in a way it will be profitable."

(Reuters)