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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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AirAsia is slowing expansion as it attempts to turn around struggling affiliates and restore profitability. Six of the eight AirAsia-branded carriers were unprofitable in 1H2015 with only the long established short-haul carriers in Malaysia and Thailand in the black.
Passenger traffic across the AirAsia family grew by only 6% in 1H2015 to 26.5 million. 2015 will almost certainly see the slowest annual traffic growth in AirAsia’s 14-year history.
2015 will also mark the first year AirAsia will shrink its fleet. AirAsia now plans to end 2015 with 193 aircraft, including 166 A320s and 27 A330-300s, compared to 197 aircraft at the beginning of the year. Extremely modest growth is now planned for the next three years, resulting in a fleet of 208 aircraft (177 A320s and 31 A330s) at the end of 2018.
LCCs now account for more than one in four airline seats worldwide, whereas within Southeast Asia close to three in every five seats are now produced by LCCs. In virtually every region worldwide, LCCs are the growth engine within the airline business. But the airports they serve were often built in a very different era. As a result, there is commonly a mismatch between airport infrastructure, technology and services and the contemporary needs of LCCs.
Airport managers and government regulators can also lack insight into the drivers of the LCC business model. Meanwhile, there are different types of LCCs, as many adopt the features of their full service counterparts and ‘hybridise’.
This essential one-day CAPA Summit in Bangkok aims to help bridge the gaps in awareness that exist between the stakeholders - to help create the conditions for a win-win in Asian aviation and beyond.
The CAPA Summit will be held at the Shangri-La, Bangkok on 15 September, with a welcome reception, hosted by AirAsia, on the evening on 14 September.
AirAsia X is further slowing growth as the long-haul low-cost group battles challenging market conditions. AirAsia X’s fleet is now slated to only grow by three aircraft over the next three years, leading to a much slower than anticipated build up for its new affiliates in Indonesia and Thailand.
AirAsia X has now been in the red for seven consecutive quarters, accumulating net losses of USD270 million including USD36 million in 2Q2015. The group has been in restructuring mode since late 2014, leading to a 20% drop in passenger traffic in 2Q2015.
Unfavourable market conditions and unexpected external factors have delayed a hoped for turnaround. But AirAsia X is confident it will be back in the black in 2H2015, boosted by capacity cuts at Malaysia Airlines; any new unforeseen external factors could however be painful.
Thai Lion Air plans to double the size of its fleet over the next 16 months, giving it a potentially larger operation than long established Nok Air by the end 2016. Thai Lion launched operations at the end of 2013, has already captured more than a 20% share of Thailand’s fast-growing domestic LCC market and should see its share exceed 30% by the end of 2016.
Thai Lion currently operates 13 737-900ERs and recently took delivery of its first two 737-800s, which it will use to launch services to secondary domestic airports that cannot accommodate 737-900ERs. Thai Lion plans to take five more 737-800s by the end of 2015 and add 10 aircraft, a mix of -800s and -900ERs, in 2016.
Thai Lion’s domestic network will grow from 10 to 13 destinations over the next few months. The carrier also resumed international services on 15-Aug-2015 with a daily flight to Singapore and plans to launch several destinations in China by the end of 2015.
Malaysia Airlines (MAS) is cutting international seat capacity by about 18% in Aug-2015 as the ailing flag carrier restructures its network ahead of the 1-Sep-2015 transition to a new company. International ASKs are being reduced by about 23% as the medium and long haul networks have seen bigger reductions than operations within Asia with the new MAS seeking to leverage its strong regional position.
Australia accounts for about 30% the seats and about 40% of the ASKs being removed from the MAS international network in Aug-2015. Europe accounts for about 10% of the seats and 20% of the ASKs being removed in Aug-2015 but the cuts to Europe are much steeper when also factoring in the May-2015 suspension of services to Frankfurt.
In Sep-2015 MAS will for the first time have a fewer international ASKs than the AirAsia/AirAsia X groups. AirAsia’s short-haul Malaysian subsidiary will also overtake MAS as Malaysia’s largest international carrier on a seat basis. On a group level AirAsia already has more international seats in Malaysia and has been the domestic leader for several years.
Malaysia Airline (MAS) is cutting capacity to Australia by over 40% in Aug-2015 as it drops Brisbane and reduces capacity to Adelaide, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney. But Australia remains an important market for MAS and the flag carrier will remain one of Australia’s 10 largest foreign airlines.
The reductions are sensible as for the most part they simply reverse earlier expansion that was overambitious and unsustainable. MAS does risk leaving an opening for competitors, particularly Malaysian rival AirAsia X, but in the current challenging phase of its history it cannot be worried about market share.
This is Part 1 in a series of reports on MAS capacity cuts and the potential impact on the Malaysian and broader Asian markets.
This report focuses on Australia, where the upcoming MAS cuts follow significant capacity reductions made in early 2015 by AirAsia X.