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AirAsia is a low cost carrier based at Kuala Lumpur International Airport, Malaysia. The carrier, which was formed out of Tune Air in 2002, is led by CEO Tony Fernandes and pioneered the cross-border joint venture in Asia, establishing Thai and Indonesian units with bases in Bangkok and Jakarta. The airline has also partnered with other airlines and investors to create ventures in the Philippines, India and Japan. AirAsia's extensive domestic and regional network includes services within Malaysia and to China, Southeast Asia and the Subcontinent.
Location of AirAsia main hub (Kuala Lumpur International Airport)
AirAsia share price
LCCs will continue to evolve into hybrids of the original core model. CAPA and OAG consider AirAsia fits the LCC profile and it is included in our reporting on this basis. Please note: when reporting for an airline is changed from or to LCC the historical data is not affected and it can lead to a distortion in the current reported data. Contact us if you have any queries.
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Malaysia Airlines (MAS) has incurred another steep loss for the quarter ending 30-Jun-2014 as already unfavourable market conditions were exacerbated by the MH370 incident. The flag carrier is expecting more steep losses in 2H2014 as it tries to recover from the unprecedented twin tragedies of MH370 and MH17.
The deep restructuring which MAS has needed for years but never was able to implement due to political and union opposition seems to finally be in sight. Capacity and job cuts are expected to be implemented over the final months of 2014, putting MAS in a stronger but still challenging position for 2015 and beyond.
Rebuilding the brand and overcoming intense competition in the Malaysian and broader Asian marketplaces, where other airlines will be eager to fill any voids left by MAS, will be immensely difficult. There is no guarantee a smaller and nimbler MAS will succeed. But continuing the prior strategy of ambitious expansion along with aggressive pricing is clearly not an option.
Indonesia AirAsia, Philippines AirAsia and new India and Japan joint ventures. The next stage begins
Part 2 of this report on the financial results of the AirAsia Group for 2Q2014 covered the – probably temporary – decline in fortunes for AirAsia's first and largest affilliate, Thai AirAsia.
Part 3 now examines the results on the outlook for the other affiliaties of the now-sprawling AirAsia group in other markets. As competition among LCCs grows in Asia, AirAsia is reaching the stage where its geographic market power can offer a unique strength. But it is not all plain sailing.
Indonesia AirAsia represents the group in that national market, where Bali/Denpasar is to become a transfer hub for Indonesia Air Asia and long-haul local JV Indonesia AirAsia X. Indonesia AirAsia is already Indonesia's largest international airline (by seats), but domestically the market competition has been intense, now partly diminished by the recent withdrawal of two competitors. Meanwhile, Philippines AirAsia has a more challenging path in what is a strenuously contested market.
As AirAsia ventures into India with AirAsia India and renews its presence in Japan's market with AirAsia Japan, the group will need its southeast Asian affiliates to maintain profitability.
AirAsia had one of its most challenging quarters in its 13-year history in 2Q2014 as overcapacity and intense competition across Southeast Asia impacted the group’s profitability. While the AirAsia Group’s Malaysian subsidiary remained profitable in 2Q2014, albeit with one of its lowest operating margins in several years, all of the group’s overseas affiliates incurred losses.
The group’s oldest and most established affiliate, Thai AirAsia (TAA), had a rare loss as political instability impacted inbound demand while domestic competition intensified. But TAA should also see an improvement in 2H2014 as Thailand’s tourism sector begins to recover and it starts to get feed from its new long-haul sister carrier, Thai AirAsiaX (TAAX).
The biggest medium and long-term challenges are in Indonesia and the Philippines, where AirAsia has been restructuring networks as part of turnaround initiatives. The group has decided to cut its fleet in the Philippines by eight aircraft while fleet growth at Indonesia AirAsia has been frozen for a second year, which will keep the airline at the 30 aircraft mark for all of 2014 and 2015. This second instalment of a three-part report on the AirAsia Group's 2Q2014 results deals with Thai AirAsia.
AirAsia has reported a drop in profits at its Malaysian short-haul subsidiary for 2Q2014 while its affiliates in India, Indonesia, Philippines and Thailand were all in the red. But Asia’s leading LCC group is confident market conditions are improving, leading to improved results in 2H2014 and 2015.
The outlook in Malaysia should particularly improve as AirAsia is in a position to benefit from the upcoming restructuring at Malaysia Airlines (MAS). AirAsia has seen profits slide over the past year due to rapid capacity expansion at MAS and Lion Air Group’s new Malaysian affiliate Malindo Air, pressuring yields.
Malaysia AirAsia has responded by slowing down expansion, increasing ASKs by a paltry 3% in 1H2014 despite having a much larger fleet than one year ago. Anticipated capacity cuts at MAS as it restructures could enable AirAsia to reaccelerate growth and restore aircraft utilisation rates to more normal AirAsia levels.
AirAsia X incurred a large loss in 2Q2014 driven by a weak performance on Australian routes, where large capacity gains from 2H2013 continue to impact yields. The MYR129 million (USD40 million) loss for 2Q2014 marks the third consecutive quarter of losses for AirAsia X, which has seen its stock price slip by over 30% since its Jul-2013 initial public offering.
But the long-haul low-cost carrier group expects significant improvements in 2H2014 as the rate of capacity growth slows in its core Malaysian market, allowing for the capacity added over the past year to be absorbed. AirAsia X is also reducing capacity slightly on two of its weakest routes, Sydney and Perth, a sensible move given the market conditions in Australia.
While the losses have been disappointing, strategically AirAsia X has improved its position significantly over the last year. The group has established two new joint ventures and is gaining market share in key medium-haul markets from Malaysia, putting it in an enviable position as rival Malaysia Airlines (MAS) struggles and restructures.
Lion Air Group Malaysian affiliate Malindo Air is planning to add capacity to India and Thailand in 4Q2014 as part of the next phase of its international expansion. Services to North Asia including mainland China are expected to be launched in 2015 as part of a subsequent phase.
Malindo has been focusing on Bangladesh, India and Indonesia since it launched international services just under a year ago. Malindo also now serves Bangkok in Thailand.
Malindo so far this year has concentrated on domestic turboprop expansion but will resume growing its international operation in 4Q2014 as it adds two 737-900ERs. The two aircraft will be Malindo’s first additional jets in over a year and will likely be followed by faster expansion of the 737 fleet in 2015. This is the second of a two part report on Lion Group's Malindo.