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437 total articles
72 total articles
Gulf airlines continue Southeast Asia push. Should Lufthansa & Singapore Airlines respond with a JV?
Lufthansa and Singapore Airlines have steadily been losing market share to the Gulf carriers. The two carriers have tried to use product upgrades to improve their position in the Asia-Europe market but have enlisted little help from potential partners – for example, each other.
Despite their Star Alliance membership, partnership is hardly the core of their relationship. Should they – and more critically, can they? – set aside their differences to combat their greater enemy?
Lufthansa and SIA together account for about 27% of non-stop Southeast Asia-Western Europe seat capacity. But when also counting passengers flown through all connecting points their share of the market is only 13%, according to OAG Traffic Analyser data. Emirates alone has 12% of the market, and once Etihad and Qatar are added, 27% of passengers between Southeast Asia and Western Europe now transits with the three Gulf carriers.
Singapore Airlines reports higher profits but future outlook hinges on Scoot & Tigerair improvements
The Singapore Airlines Group turned a SGD111 million (USD83 million) operating profit for the three months ending 30-Jun-2015 (1QFY2016), marking its best first quarter showing since 2011. An operating profit of SGD108 million (USD81 million) at the parent airline drove the overall result. Full service regional subsidiary SilkAir also remained in the black while the group’s two LCC subsidiaries Tigerair and Scoot, were break-even and incurred a SGD20 million (USD15 million) operating loss respectively.
But the outlook for Tigerair and Scoot should brighten as the two carriers continue to pursue closer cooperation. Scoot should also see a significant improvement after it completes the transition to an all-787 fleet and expands its operation, enabling it to achieve higher economies of scale.
Scoot plans to phase out its last 777 in the current quarter and nearly double the size of its fleet during FY2016 from six to 11 aircraft. The loss reported for Scoot for 1QFY2016 marks the first time SIA has reported financials for the long-haul LCC since it launched in mid-2012.
Myanmar National Airlines (MNA) plans to launch services on the highly competitive Yangon-Singapore route in Aug-2015 as it starts to implement an ambitious international expansion plan. The newly rebranded government-owned carrier took delivery of the first of 10 737-800s in Jun-2015 and plans to operate five international routes by early 2016 as it grows its new narrowbody fleet.
But the airline faces huge challenges as it operates outside the domestic market for the first time in two decades. The Yangon-Singapore market is already experiencing overcapacity and Myanmar-based carriers have struggled to compete against their Singaporean competitors, forcing cutbacks at Myanmar Airways International (MAI) and the withdrawal of Golden Myanmar Airways.
MNA will inevitably face the same challenges in Singapore as other Burmese carriers, particularly given its brand is an unknown in the international market. North Asia, which MNA plans to enter in the coming months, will also be a challenging market.
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.
Singapore Airlines Group has reported improved profits for the quarter and year ending 31-Mar-2015 (FY2015) driven by a recovery in yields. The SIA mainline operation, full-service regional subsidiary SilkAir and SIA Cargo all recorded improvements in their operating performance for FY2015, although SIA Cargo remained in the red.
The SIA Group should be able to boost profitability further in FY2016 driven partially by fuel cost reductions. But market conditions remain relatively challenging and profits are unlikely to return to pre global financial crisis levels.
Mainline capacity will again be flat in FY2016 and there should be an opportunity to boost yields further at the parent airline as premium economy is introduced. But the group is accelerating capacity expansion at SilkAir and long-haul LCC subsidiary Scoot, which could put pressure on yields and load factors in some markets.
Singapore Airlines (SIA) reported a slight drop in operating profits at the group and parent airline for the fiscal third quarter ending 31-Dec-2014. But SIA and regional full-service subsidiary SilkAir both remained in the black for the quarter and calendar 2014 despite challenging market conditions which drove losses at most of its peers in Southeast Asia.
SIA has outperformed its neighbours by maintaining a disciplined and rational approach to capacity. The parent airline has shrunk since 2008 and the upcoming introduction of premium economy product could result in a further reduction in seat capacity and passenger traffic.
But premium economy could also drive an improvement in yields and profitability at the parent airline after several years of declines. Group profitability should also improve as SIA’s two budget airline subsidiaries, which are driving most of the growth, turn the corner.