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Based at Singapore Changi Airport, Singapore Airlines is the national carrier of Singapore. Using a fleet of wide-body Boeing and Airbus aircraft, including the A380 of which Singapore Airlines was the launch customer, Singapore Airlines operates an extensive network across Asia, North America, Australasia, Europe, Africa and the Middle East. Singapore Airlines joined the Star Alliance on 01-Apr-2000.
Location of Singapore Airlines main hub (Singapore Changi Airport)
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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.
Singapore has seen traffic growth slow significantly over the last year driven by challenges in its previously booming short-haul market. Total passenger traffic at Singapore Changi grew by only 5% in 2013, ending a three-year run of double digit growth, and is on pace to grow by less than 2% in 2014.
Profitability in the Singapore market meanwhile has tumbled driven by losses at Singapore’s three LCCs – Tigerair Singapore, Jetstar Asia and Scoot. Singapore Airlines regional subsidiary SilkAir also has seen profits slide as it has been impacted by the overcapacity and intense competition in Singapore’s short-haul market.
Tigerair, Jetstar Asia and SilkAir have all responded by halting or slowing down expansion. Singapore’s LCC penetration rate has started to slip, ending a decade of steady gains.
Southeast Asian airlines have faced extremely challenging market conditions in 2014, resulting in an alarming amount of red ink. Of the 17 airlines in Southeast Asia that report earnings only four posted operating profits in 1H2014 compared to 12 in 1H2013.
Among the nearly 50 airlines based in Southeast Asia, excluding small regional and charter operators, approximately 80% were not profitable in 1H2014. Losses are likely to continue through at least 3Q2014 but there are indications market conditions will start to improve by 4Q2014 or 1H2015.
Several Southeast Asian airlines have responded to overcapacity by and cutting capacity or slowing their expansion. Markets that have seen political and economic instability are also starting to stabilise.
Air New Zealand reported its third consecutive year of profit growth in the FY to 30-Jun-2014. The contrast is obvious with Qantas, which has announced a massive headline loss of AUD2.8 billion (although an underlying loss which improved considerably on analysts' expectations). But the reality is the three hours that separates Sydney from Auckland also significantly changes market conditions that account for the difference in fortune. Air New Zealand faces no major competitor in its core domestic market while in the long-haul market competition is significantly lower and strong partnerships dominate.
Air New Zealand is not resting on its laurels, with a projected 6% ASK growth in FY2015. Domestic, trans-Tasman and North America growth will be below average, Europe flat, and Asia above average as Air New Zealand resumes Auckland-Singapore flying as part of its approved JV with Singapore Airlines. Aside from the Singapore route, most growth will occur through capacity up-gauging as larger aircraft replace smaller ones, reducing growth risk and hefty route start-up costs.
As Qantas and Virgin Australia, at least temporarily, call a truce on their domestic market share battles, their focus of attention turns to international operations as they report their fiscal 2014 results on 28 and 29-Aug-2014. Neither has achieved its ideal position and there is undoubtedly a lot of head scratching going on among their strategy teams. Qantas in particular is expressly looking at cutting as much as USD1 billion in costs out of its international operations; and neither airline has yet been able to establish a sound foundation for a North Asian strategy.
In this short pre-results overview, we look at some indicative, publicly available, load factor statistics that may suggest where each should be heading in terms of laying down the basis for sustainable international strategies. There is a lot more to route planning than historic load factors, but it is a good place to start. No doubt more thinking will be exposed when the airlines report FY2014 financials.
As the trans-Pacific aviation market develops, traffic expands and new entrants arrive on the scene, there are predictablity changes in the ways passengers and freight move across this potentially vast long-haul market. One of the largest changes is occurring as Tokyo is bypassed.
US airlines in particular are resorting to use of the new direct rights - and new equipment - which provide them with improved non-stop access into the Chinese market and other Asian points.
This is the last part in a four-part series of analysis reports on the dynamic North Pacific market. The first part focused on Asian airlines, the second part on US carriers and the third part on the growing role of hubs in China.