By Gabriel Araujo
SAO PAULO (Reuters) -Brazilian airline Azul SA said on Monday it expects its earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) to reach a record of about 4 billion reais ($787.42 million) in 2022 and continue to grow next year.
Available seat kilometers (ASK) are expected to grow 10% in 2022 from pre-pandemic 2019 levels, Azul said in a securities filing, while revenue per available seat-kilometer (RASK) is set to rise more than 20% when compared with 2019 levels.
"We have seen nine straight months of strong and growing leisure demand, while corporate demand accelerated rapidly," Azul said, adding that it has also ended the first quarter with prices at record levels in both segments.
The company has projected its EBITDA at about 5.5 billion reais in 2023.
Azul added that it expects to start lowering its leverage measured by the net debt/EBITDA ratio, which is seen reaching 5 at the end of this year before falling to 4 in 2023 and 3 in 2024.
The projections came as Azul on Monday reported a first- quarter net income of 2.66 billion reais, up from a 2.65 billion-real net loss seen a year ago, driven mainly by currency gains.
The airline posted an adjusted net loss of 808.4 million reais in the quarter when such foreign exchange gains are not considered, versus a 1.07 billion-real adjusted net loss seen in the same period of 2021.
Azul said its quarterly net revenue came in above pre-pandemic levels for the second quarter in a row, up 74.9% to 3.2 billion reais.
The company expects to reach a record quarterly operating revenue in the second quarter, as well as an all-time high RASK, even considering that such period is seasonally weaker, it said.
($1 = 5.0799 reais)
(Reporting by Gabriel Araujo; Editing by Toby Chopra, Louise Heavens and Andrea Ricci)