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Based in Singapore, Jetstar Asia is a low cost airline. Using the Qantas Group's Jetstar brand, Jetstar Asia has a network of services within Asia using A320 aircraft. Jetstar Asia/Valuair is 51% held by Westbrook Investments Pte Ltd (Westbrook) and 49% by Qantas.
Location of Jetstar Asia main hub (Singapore Changi Airport)
LCCs will continue to evolve into hybrids of the original core model. CAPA and OAG consider Jetstar Asia 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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There's no room to stand still in the airline business. Qantas CEO Alan Joyce's often controversial measures during a turbulent four years are being vindicated. His aggressive transformation of Qantas appears now to be showing remarkable dividends, with the prospect of going from a billion dollar loss in 2014 to a billion dollar profit just a year on. Next on the agenda will be growth.
Qantas International has returned to profitability for the first time since the global financial crisis (GFC); this is partially due to depreciation gains following large write-downs in FY2014, but there is a fundamental redirection too. Qantas Domestic has bounced back now that the domestic capacity war is over and with room for further improvement. Jetstar has returned to profit but is still under-performing compared to previous years, again with more upside.
Lower fuel costs will deliver Qantas a minimum AUD500 million benefit, setting the group up for a full-year profit around AUD1 billion. The fuel tailwind is an added bonus. Even without it, there are structural changes that will continue to flow through irrespective of that windfall. "Today we can see a bright future," Mr Joyce says.
Yet that proclamation means Qantas must address calls for it to return to growth now that its dark days of restructuring are, if not all behind it, at least nearing fruition. Initially growth is expected to be mostly in the international market as the relatively mature domestic market may be challenged by weak consumer sentiment. For the longer term international growth must be the goal; this will hinge on the synergies Qantas can gain with its key international partners, and if Qantas is successful in lobbying for a slowdown in foreign carrier growth.
Singapore’s aviation market grew by only 0.7% in 2014, the smallest increase since the global financial crisis in 2009. Passenger growth in 2015 will again be very modest as capacity is maintained roughly at current levels.
Singapore has been impacted by capacity adjustments by its struggling low-cost carrier sector. Singapore’s LCC penetration rate, which increased steadily from 2003 to 1H2014, declined in 2H2014.
Singapore also has been impacted by declining visitor numbers. All of four of Singapore’s largest source markets – Indonesia, Malaysia, China and Australia – recorded drops in visitor numbers in 2014. Passenger traffic to Thailand, one of Singapore’s largest outbound and transit markets, declined due to the civil unrest in Bangkok.
Singapore short-haul LCC market remains challenging despite adjustments at Jetstar Asia and Tigerair
Overcapacity continues to impact Singapore’s LCC sector, pressuring yields and resulting in unsustainable losses. But the market could start to see improvements in 2015 driven by capacity adjustments and increased reliance on partnerships.
Singapore’s two short-haul low-cost carriers, Jetstar Asia and Tigerair, have both been unprofitable since early 2013 as the market failed to absorb a surge in capacity. But Tigerair has started to reduce capacity in recent months while Jetstar has modestly increased capacity without increasing its fleet.
Both LCCs meanwhile are expanding transit traffic and partnerships. By relying less on Singapore’s relatively limited local market, Jetstar Asia and Tigerair Singapore should be able to eventually improve yields to a sustainable level.
Lion Group Malaysian affiliate Malindo Air is planning to launch services on 3-Nov-2014 to Singapore, which will become the hybrid carrier’s 10th international destination from Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA). Malindo will be the fourth LCC on the KLIA-Singapore route, which will become the largest international LCC route in the world based on seat capacity.
Lion will join Asia’s other three main LCC groups – AirAsia, Jetstar and Tigerair – in competing in the busy Singapore-Kuala Lumpur market. While Malindo may find the local market challenging, particularly from a Singapore point of sales perspective given its unfamiliar brand, the carrier will also offer connections passengers beyond Kuala Lumpur with a focus on South Asia.
Kuala Lumpur-Singapore will be Malindo’s first destination with 162-seat 737-800s. Malindo is taking two 737-800s in 4Q2014, supplementing its existing jet fleet of six 180-seat 737-900ERs. The 737-800s will also be used to launch service to Bandung in Indonesia and to add a second daily flight to Bangkok.
Singapore Changi Airport and CAAS are trying to promote new long-haul flights and more transit traffic in response to a significant slowdown in passenger growth. Singapore is eager to drum up new sources of traffic or growth as it invests significantly in airport expansion which will prove to be overly ambitious if growth cannot be restored.
Incentivising transit traffic is logical as a growth in transit numbers, long a staple under Singapore’s hub strategy, could help offset a recent drop in inbound visitor numbers. Following Kuala Lumpur's example, Singapore will probably need to focus on enhancing LCC transit traffic, an increasingly important segment which Changi has barely scratched.
Long-haul transit traffic growth will be much harder to achieve, even with incentives. Changi’s biggest growth opportunities are likely on medium-haul routes and connections within Asia-Pacific.
SilkAir is joining Singapore’s main LCC groups in slowing down expansion in response to overcapacity in Singapore’s short-haul market. SilkAir capacity growth has been in the low single digits in recent months and will likely stay at modest levels as it accelerates the retirement of A320s.
The full service regional subsidiary of Singapore Airlines, SilkAir has expanded rapidly over the past several years despite intensifying competition with LCCs. SilkAir has doubled in size since 2007 and has consistently outperformed Singapore’s two short-haul LCCs, Tigerair and Jetstar Asia, in the process securing valuable slots at Changi Airport for the group.
SilkAir has been planning to maintain annual double digit capacity growth, driven by the introduction of new 737-800s. But a slowdown is sensible given the current overcapacity situation in the Singapore short-haul market, which has led to a steep drop in profits at SilkAir as well as at LCC competitors.