Struggling Air Mauritius optimistic of return to profitability By LINLEY BIGNOUX in Port Louis | Wednesday, July 31  2013 at  16:19

Air Mauritius has been buffeted by the global recession and soaring oil prices. PHOTO | FILE 

Air Mauritius remains confident of returning to profitability this financial year as a turnaround plan bears fruit, executives said at its annual shareholders meeting.

The national carrier in June reported a $33.9 million increase in revenue but still remains in loss making territory, having made losses of $33.87 million in the financial year that ended in March 2012.

Speaking at the AGM, chief executive officer Andre Viljoen attributed the improvement to operating efficiency changes made over the year including a seven-step recovery plan instituted in 2012.

The plan includes network consolidation to more profitable routes, improved customer services, the disposure of non-core assets and the purchase of new fuel-efficient craft.

Mr Viljoen said that full financial recovery was envisioned in 2015, while a return to marginal profit is to be expected this financial year.

Chairman Dass Thomas told reporters that a new business model that upgrades the carrier's strategic goals will definitely involve replacing its fleet.

However, Air Mauritius has remained tight-lipped on orders for aircraft to date, with 13 aircraft currently in operation. It is expected that an announcement on this will be made by 2014.

Mr Thomas said that innovation was crucial to the turnaround given today's competitive markets.

In January the airline announced that it will augment its flights to Nairobi, Johannesburg, Paris , London, Kuala Lumpur, Perth and Singapore as they were consistently profitable.

Emerging markets such as India, Singapore, Malaysia, United Arab Emirates, China and Sub-Saharan Africa were increasingly profitable, according to the airline's 2013 Annual report.

Equally, the report highlighted that soaring fuel prices, an extremely competitive global airline market and cultivating customer service levels would be fundamental to improving revenues.