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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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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.
Lion Air Group Malaysian affiliate Malindo Air is focusing expansion in 2014 on its turboprop operation in response to opportunities on short routes within Malaysia. Malindo added five ATR 72-600s in 1H2014 and is taking another five in 2H2014, giving it a fleet of 13 ATR 72s but only eight 737-900ERs.
The heavy reliance on turboprops was not expected but enables Malindo to serve routes that are under the radar screen of all-A320 operator AirAsia. Malindo is instead competing mainly with Malaysia Airlines regional subsidiary Firefly as it has focused most of its expansion so far this year at Kuala Lumpur’s second airport Subang.
Malindo is planning to open by the end of 2014 a second turboprop base at Penang and is also looking at potentially opening bases in the east Malaysian cities of Kota Kinabalu and Kuching. The new bases will support several new routes, some of which are completely unserved.
AirAsia X is reinforcing its leading position in the fast growing medium/long-haul low-cost segment with a commitment for 50 A330-900neo aircraft for delivery from 2018. AirAsia X emerged at the Farnborough Airshow on 15-Jul-2014 as the launch airline for the new type, joining three leasing companies which have also signed up as launch customers with commitments for 55 aircraft. It is the first long-haul low-cost airline to become a launch customer.
The new commitment from AirAsia X, once converted into a firm order, will grow the group’s fleet to up to 117 aircraft by the middle of next decade compared to 22 currently and only 12 at the beginning of 2013. Malaysia-based AirAsia X is already the largest group in the long-haul low-cost segment, which now consists of six carriers including four in Asia-Pacific. AirAsia X is accelerating growth as it opens new bases in Thailand and Indonesia.
The group, however, will have the flexibility to adjust growth by phasing out existing A330-300s as well as potentially cancelling some of its A330-300 and A350-900 orders. Ultimately the AirAsia X fleet will likely expand over the next 10 years to 90-100 aircraft, providing capacity growth of about 20% per annum with the possibility of even faster growth should market conditions warrant.
Lion Air Group’s pace of expansion is about to accelerate as it takes delivery of its first A320 and increases its 737 delivery rate. The group plans to add over 30 aircraft in 2H2014 as it increases its overall average monthly intake from three to five aircraft – a rate it will maintain in 2015, resulting in a staggering 60 deliveries next year.
At the same time AirAsia Group is slowing its fleet expansion, particularly in the Southeast Asia market. AirAsia is growing its Southeast Asian fleet by only six aircraft in 2H2014 and may not add any aircraft in 2015 as the focus will be on spooling up new affiliates in India and Japan.
If Lion does not follow AirAsia in slowing down growth in Southeast Asia it will quickly shoot past AirAsia. There is a risk market share gains will come at the expense of yields and profitability as several Southeast Asian markets are already suffering from overcapacity - but there is a larger strategic game being played out now.
AirAsia will re-enter Japan in 2015 more experienced about partnership and Japan market needs. The first AirAsia Japan has been a good learning trajectory and the lessons learned from working with majority owner All Nippon Airways have translated to a new partnership profile that avoids a Japan airline JV. AirAsia Japan Mk II – the country’s fifth LCC since 2012 – will have four local investors, with none holding a majority share – and who are more likely to be happy to go along with AirAsia’s low cost philosophy.
One investor, web travel giant Rakuten, establishes the intriguing scenario of entrepreneurs at AirAsia Japan and Skymark trying to take on the ANA and JAL establishment in Asia’s second-largest domestic market where fares are absurdly out of kilter with global practice. Hybrid and LCC penetration was approximately 19% in FY2013, but the new LCCs – with truly low cost bases – still had only a 13% share. There is room still for major change.
AirAsia Japan will re-enter probably to be based at Nagoya, which has no LCC competition (for now) and no curfew, unlike its former base of Tokyo Narita. AirAsia Japan will also be painfully aware of the importance of near-perfect punctuality in Japan and user-friendly website design, where it stumbled the first time around. It will follow a relatively modest time frame for establishment this time too, recognsing the quirky processes – formal and informal – that plague Japan's aviation administration. AirAsia and ANA (with Vanilla) are each reattempting an LCC. If allowed its head, the new AirAsia Japan holds considerable promise.
Kuala Lumpur International Airport's KLIA2 evolved considerably over the period between its conception and introduction in May-2014. Starting as a Low Cost Terminal designed to provide a larger and modernised version of KLIA's original LCC Terminal, at its opening it represented a uniquely hybridised model which may well become a vital link in the broader evolution of airport operations where LCCs and full service airlines each constitute a large part of the movements.
Today KLIA boldly anticipates providing a facility for connectivity on a level that many traditional hub airports do not achieve. For the moment only about 10% of passengers are engaging in a transfer at KLIA2 but unlike its predecessor it was built very much with the future in mind, and trends that are still evolving.
This is Part 2 of a report on the development and unique nature of KLIA2.