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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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Air New Zealand remains one of the world's few investment-rated airlines (Baa3), and the only rated airline outside North America and Europe. Its latest results reinforced that position. Air NZ is building on that strength with a 20% increase in pre-tax profits in the first half of its fiscal year, the six months to 30-Dec-2014. That result was driven by increased revenue performance, notably a 1.9% yield gain and 1.2% increase in traffic.
Air NZ realised only a modest NZD20 million (USD15 million) gain from fuel as lower prices were offset by hedging losses. Air NZ expects a stronger gain of approximately NZD82 million (USD61 million) in the second half, but this too will be well short of what Air NZ could have realised without hedging losses.
Some of the fuel price gain will be used to stimulate demand as Air NZ grows at a much faster 12% rate in the second half. This includes its new Auckland-Singapore route, domestic growth twice the rate of New Zealand's GDP. Later in 2015 comes the start of a Buenos Aires service – and possibly a fourth - as yet undisclosed - North American destination.
Thailand’s NokScoot is aiming to launch scheduled services in May-2015 with an initial fleet of three 415-seat 777-200s. The long-haul low-cost joint venture between Thai Airways affiliate Nok Air and Singapore Airlines (SIA) subsidiary Scoot is planning to serve China, Korea, Japan and potentially Singapore in its initial phase.
NokScoot is eager to enter the fast-expanding but increasingly competitive Thailand-North Asia market. But the start-up is unlikely to pursue significant growth until it is able transition to new-generation aircraft. The 777s are an interim solution that is unlikely to be profitable but enables NokScoot to quickly establish a presence on several key routes.
NokScoot was initially planning to launch scheduled services in late 2014 starting with flights to Tokyo Narita. But it has encountered repeated delays, mainly on the Japanese end. NokScoot is now simultaneously seeking approvals from several authorities, giving it the flexibility to launch with one of several potential routes.
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.
The Singapore-North Asia market has continued to grow over the last year despite a drop in visitor numbers from China and an overall slowdown in passenger traffic in Singapore. The market should experience accelerated growth in 2015 as visitor numbers from China recover.
North Asia is an important market for Singapore and its airline sector as the Singapore-Southeast Asia market is showing signs of maturity and overcapacity after several years of rapid LCC-driven growth. The Singapore-North Asia market is relatively unpenetrated and could be stimulated as medium-haul LCCs expand and discretionary income levels in China continue to grow.
This is Part 3 in a series of analysis reports on the Singapore market and the outlook for Changi Airport, which recorded passenger growth of only 0.7% in 2014.
Gulf carriers are continuing to pursue ambitious expansion in Singapore, intensifying competition with Singapore Airlines (SIA). Gulf carriers are steadily increasing their share of the Singapore-Europe market while SIA reduces capacity to Europe.
Qatar Airways is increasing capacity in Singapore by 67% in mid-2015 as it introduces a third daily service, while Emirates significantly expanded capacity in Singapore in Aug-2014, when it introduced its fifth daily Dubai-Singapore frequency. Etihad Airways meanwhile is adding Singapore-Middle East capacity by decoupling its Singapore-Brisbane service from Jun-2015.
Total seat capacity between Singapore and the Middle East will be up by almost 20% in Jun-2015 compared to Jun-2014. SIA has steadily cut back capacity to the Middle East in recent years while not pursuing any growth to Europe. SIA will now be cutting total seat capacity to Europe by about 4% from 2H2015 as it introduces a premium economy product. The resulting reduction in economy seat capacity could help SIA improve yields in markets facing intensifying competition with Gulf carriers.
A significant expansion in air traffic rights for Chinese airlines to Australia saw their stock prices jump 3-5%. Ironically, the growth made available from this agreement may mostly be unprofitable, at least in the short term. This explains why China is pursuing gradual liberalisation and not the open skies Australia wants. There is no doubt which group of airlines gain the most: it is the Chinese carriers, who already account for 92% of Australia-China non-stop seat capacity. Qantas, the only Australian airline to operate non-stop, is at 8%.
But Australia is still very much the winner in the bigger picture. Chinese visitor numbers to Australia in the first nine months of 2014 were up 13.4%, and overall volumes more than doubled between 2009 and 2013. As with other destinations in the region, Chinese are quickly becoming a key source market. For Sydney Airport, Chinese passengers account for half of its international growth while at Melbourne Airport China is its largest long-haul market. The expanded agreement is already bearing fruit with capacity additions from Air China and China Eastern as well as a new service from Xiamen Airlines to Sydney expected to be launched before the end of 2015.