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- Perth Jandakot Airport
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Perth Airport is the main gateway to the Perth metropolitan area and the state of Western Australia. Hosting domestic, regional and international passenger and cargo services for over 20 airlines, the airport is a regional hub for Qantas Airways, Virgin Australia Regional Airlines, Skippers Aviation, Alliance Airlines, Cobham and Network Aviation.
Location of Perth Airport, Australia
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803 total articles
44 total articles
Virgin Australia FY2014's loss aggravated by short haul international operations; FFP a new strength
There was never any doubt Virgin Australia would incur a FY2014 loss in its domestic operation as a result of over-capacity. And indeed Virgin had a domestic AUD59.2 million EBIT loss, larger than FY2013's AUD34.6 million loss. But more unwelcome was a large swing at its international operation, which posted a FY2014 EBIT loss of AUD66.8 million, significantly worse than FY2013's AUD8.5 million loss. International's margin of negative 5.8% was also significantly worse than domestic's negative 1.9%.
International was impacted by substantial competition to Southeast Asia, an overall small market for Virgin but with disproportionate losses. More subdued domestic market conditions should improve Virgin's performance at home, but international offers no such comfort, raising the question of whether Virgin needs to leverage its LCC unit Tigerair Australia to take over leisure routes no longer suited to Virgin's full-service proposition and cost base.
Virgin's overall FY2014 underlying loss of AUD211.7 million was in line with market expectations and accompanied by news Virgin is selling a 35% stake in its loyalty programme, valuing it at AUD960 million, a significant part of Virgin's total market capitalisation of AUD1.4 billion. Virgin is looking to accelerate growth in this division whereas Qantas has decided to retain total control and the annual revenues.
Royal Brunei Airlines (RBA) should start to see improvements over the next year in its long-haul operation after completing the transition to an all-787 widebody fleet. The long-haul network, which has been highly unprofitable and relies heavily on transit traffic, will also benefit from new regional feed from Bali and Ho Chi Minh.
RBA’s short-haul operation, which is not nearly as unprofitable as it relies primarily on higher yielding point to point traffic, should also see improvements as the network is expanded. Larger gains will come in 2017 when the airline starts to take delivery of A320neos, which will reduce operating costs and open up new medium-haul routes that are too thin for widebodies.
RBA is looking at using the A320neo to resume expansion in Australia and launch services to South Asia. Beijing, Seoul and Tokyo may also be added as part of a new five-year plan. Modest expansion is a realistic scenario for RBA as the flag carrier is now tracking ahead of the targets set in its last five-year plan, which was prepared in 2011 and initially focused on a restructuring.
AirAsia X incurred a large loss in 2Q2014 driven by a weak performance on Australian routes, where large capacity gains from 2H2013 continue to impact yields. The MYR129 million (USD40 million) loss for 2Q2014 marks the third consecutive quarter of losses for AirAsia X, which has seen its stock price slip by over 30% since its Jul-2013 initial public offering.
But the long-haul low-cost carrier group expects significant improvements in 2H2014 as the rate of capacity growth slows in its core Malaysian market, allowing for the capacity added over the past year to be absorbed. AirAsia X is also reducing capacity slightly on two of its weakest routes, Sydney and Perth, a sensible move given the market conditions in Australia.
While the losses have been disappointing, strategically AirAsia X has improved its position significantly over the last year. The group has established two new joint ventures and is gaining market share in key medium-haul markets from Malaysia, putting it in an enviable position as rival Malaysia Airlines (MAS) struggles and restructures.
When Qantas Group informed the market that it would not add domestic capacity in the first quarter of FY2015 commencing 01-Jul-2014, the perceived implication was that the capacity and fare war Qantas had fought with Virgin Australia was over. Virgin's "Game Change Programme" re-positioned the carrier as a full-service airline with business class offering, bringing premium competition to the Australian market for the first time since Ansett's 2001 collapse. Virgin was bullish on growth opportunities while Qantas abided by its strategy calling for 65% marketshare. In borad terms, when Virgin added a flight, Qantas added two.
But the white flag has not been raised. Qantas Group's 1QFY2015 domestic capacity will be flat, but this is comprised of capacity decreases in the Western Australia market (a 10% reduction in intra-WA) and capacity increases in the east coast, mainly around Queensland. The WA market already was so over-capacity that there were never going to be winners. Pulling back capacity is not so much a strategic decision as delayed common sense. More reductions may still be needed. The Qantas-Virgin fight appears set to continue in the country's east.
The over-capacity Australia-Southeast Asia market is showing signs of improvement with airlines beginning to reduce capacity. Qantas and Singapore Airlines have down-gauged services, Qantas from 747-400 to A330-300 while Singapore Airlines has replaced a daily A380 flight at each of Melbourne and Sydney with a smaller aircraft.
Qantas has exited the Perth-Singapore market while Scoot continues to offer reduced frequencies on its Australian services. Garuda has abandoned plans to deploy 777-300ERs to Australia.
But these initiatives so far are largely the low-hanging fruit of cutbacks. Qantas still faces a reckoning of a Singapore-Australia market only slightly larger than Emirates’ Singapore/Malaysia-Australia market. Capacity has yet to come out of Malaysia, where AirAsia X has aggressively built a presence, while Malaysia Airlines tenuously holds its ground in its largest international market, despite a higher cost base and mounting losses.
Australia is the world's seventh-largest domestic market and arguably has been one of the plushest with the most handsome yields. Recently large additions of capacity from Qantas and Virgin Australia have shredded profitability by hundreds of millions of dollars. There is much debate about the Qantas Group's 65% market share "line in the sand" that sees them add capacity to match Virgin. Overlooked in this debate is where the capacity is being added and why it is so difficult to absorb it.
This report looks at the growth in the domestic market over the past two years, when this battle has been at its most intense. The fastest growing market has been the segment within Western Australia, with nearly 40% growth. This capacity is tied to mining work, which has recently softened. This market typically has very limited (if any) leisure focus, so it is difficult to stimulate demand with reduced fares and profits. There has also been rapid capacity expansion on east-west coast routes, markets which are also challenging to stimulate.
The issue for Qantas and Virgin now is not only to address the capacity situation at large, but also their strategy for Western Australia, where one-third of all Australian airline capacity goes to or from.