After repeated deferrals, Philippines AirAsia's IPO appears to be back on track for 2019.

Going public this year could raise more than USD200 million to boost capacity, Tony Fernandes, CEO of AirAsia Group, told reporters at a press conference in Manila.

The group had originally planned to list some of its low-cost South-East Asian units in 2017, but volatile markets and business challenges pushed it back to 2018 and now again to 2019.

“We’re getting close. Hopefully we can do it this year,” Fernandes assured in a report by The Philippine Star.

He added that he hoped the amount would be “far greater” than the USD200 million target previously announced.

Philippines AirAsia, which has twenty-three A320-200s and saw 6.86 million passengers in 2018, is together with Indonesia AirAsia (QZ, Jakarta Soekarno-Hatta) growing the most in the group, Fernandes said. It will return to profitability this year, he forecast, adding: “We’ve cracked the barrier of size, we know the market better.”

The airline swung from a profit to a net operating loss of PHP2.11 billion peso (USD40 million) in 2018, hit by rising fuel prices and a weakening currency.

In related news, AirAsia Group has proposed a share buy-back of up to 10% of the total number of issued shares for the group.

A notice to shareholders dated April 30 states that the share buy-back would be effective immediately if passed at the group's AGM in Kuala Lumpur on June 27.

The notice said that the purchased equity may then be held as treasury shares and resold on the Malaysian stock exchange at a higher price, with the intention of realising a potential gain without affecting the total number of the company's shares.