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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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The much-celebrated growth of Chinese tourism is not occurring evenly. An additional 3.8 million Chinese visitors travelled to core Northeast and Southeast Asia in 2014 compared to 2013, representing 19% growth. But this growth was concentrated exclusively in Northeast Asia while Southeast Asia actually contracted. This excludes Thailand, which is earning its "Teflon Thailand" reputation: after flat performance over much of 2014 due to political uncertainty, Chinese visitors have sprung back up to all time highs. Its neighbouring countries are far less fortunate. It is little wonder Korea, Thailand and Japan are the largest growth markets for Chinese airlines.
Despite weakness in Southeast Asia, foreign airlines are typically not planning to further reduce capacity. As one example, Singapore Airlines instead plans to link outbound China traffic with other markets, such as Australia.
Rapid growth within Northeast Asia now means that Chinese visitors have come to define tourism profiles: they accounted for 18% of all visitors to Japan in 2014, 43% to Korea and 40% to Taiwan. Such high shares become contentious locally – and risks that countries and airlines need to carefully manage.
The last few years have been without doubt some of the most challenging in India’s aviation history. Over-capacity, high input costs, intense competition and a negative policy and regulatory environment conspired to threaten the viability of virtually the entire aviation value chain. India’s airlines alone have lost more than USD10 billion combined since FY2009. Airline debt stands at around USD11.3 billion, rising to close to USD14 billion if liabilities to vendors are included. At an industry level airline debt is now equivalent to more than 100% of airline revenue.
In FY2015 traffic increased and losses declined but this was largely a function of lower fuel prices. There was little else which happened that contributed to the improved performance. Looking ahead to the remainder of FY2016, the positive external factors are that fuel prices are expected to stay close to current levels while India’s economic outlook is improving. Robust traffic growth is expected to continue, and with modest capacity expansion, Indian carrier financials should see further improvement.
Malaysia’s AirAsia X turned a small operating profit for 1Q2015 and is optimistic it is on track for completing a turnaround in 2H2015. But market conditions in Malaysia remain challenging and not all competitors may follow AirAsia X in adopting a more rational approach to capacity and pricing.
The Malaysian-based long-haul low-cost carrier cut capacity in 1Q2015, driven by a 21% reduction to Australia. But its load factor dropped by an alarming 12ppt and yields improved less than expected.
This is Part 2 in a series of analysis reports on Malaysian airlines. The first report examined the outlook for Malaysia Airlines (MAS), which is starting to reduce capacity and head count as part of its own restructuring initiative.
Malaysia Airlines (MAS) is finally starting to implement a long overdue restructuring aimed at restoring profitability through capacity reductions, job cuts and efficiency improvements. A rebranding is also being considered as the flag carrier transitions to a new company and starts a new chapter.
MAS has been in need of a major overhaul for several years but its predicament became more dire in 2014 due to the MH370 and MH17 incidents, coupled with overcapacity in its home market. The Malaysian government was quick to respond by unveiling in Aug-2014 a restructuring initiative and a plan to buy out minority shareholders. MAS de-listed in late 2014 but has been extremely slow in implementing other changes, including job and capacity cuts.
With the arrival of its new CEO, Christoph Mueller, MAS is finally moving forward with job cuts ahead of the delayed transition to a new company, which is now slated to take over from the current ailing company on 1-Sep-2015. Capacity adjustments have started with the recent suspension of services to Frankfurt, Kochi, Krabi and Kunming.
Thailand’s two largest short-haul low-cost carriers, Nok Air and Thai AirAsia (TAA), reported improvements in their profitability in 1Q2015 as market conditions improved. LCC passenger traffic in the Bangkok market surged 41% in 1Q2015 as Nok, Thai AirAsia and Thai Lion all pursued rapid expansion, particularly domestically. LCCs now account for 36% of passenger traffic in Bangkok (both airports) compared to 28% two years ago.
Total domestic traffic in the Bangkok market was up 25% in 1Q2015, driven by a 45% increase by the LCCs. But domestic yields remain under pressure and overcapacity concerns are unlikely to ease given the continued rapid capacity expansion by all three of Thailand’s LCCs along with the planned launch of Thai VietJet.
Thailand’s short-haul international market is seeing a healthier demand-supply balance as demand has quickly recovered after a challenging 2014. A surge in visitor numbers from other Asian countries has particularly benefitted AirAsia, which is the largest player in Thailand's international LCC market by a wide margin. TAA profits increased nearly four-fold as TAA has a balanced domestic/international network while Nok's profits grew more modestly on a very low base as it relies almost entirely on the more challenging domestic market.
Singapore-based LCC Tigerair has cut capacity on 13 routes and suspended seven routes entirely as part of a network restructuring. The cuts have driven a reduction in Singapore's LCC penetration rate and led to a better supply-demand balance in a market which had been – and to some extent still is – suffering from overcapacity.
But the reductions at Tigerair also have created opportunities for competitors. While one of the other two main LCC players in the Singapore LCC sector, AirAsia, also has responded to the challenging market conditions by cutting capacity, Jetstar has quietly expanded.
Jetstar has added capacity over the last year on nine of the 13 routes it competes against Tigerair. Most of these routes have seen Tigerair reductions.