AirAsia load factors up, Jetstar expands long-haul, Tiger’s vertical seating, Virgin’s middle ground

AirAsia has significantly enhanced its traffic reporting, releasing monthly operating statistics for each of its Malaysian, Thai and Indonesian operations for the first time, reproduced in full here.

The Malaysian operation enjoyed rising load factors in Apr-2010 and May-2010, with occupancy rates peaking at 80% last month (as in Jun-2009). Average stage lengths have been relatively flat, while the carrier had 50 aircraft in operation at the end of Jun-2010, up from 47 in the same month last year.

AirAsia’s Malaysian operating highlights: Apr-2010 to Jun-2010

Thai AirAsia has also enjoyed rising load factors, although they are averaging around 4-6 ppts below the Malaysian operation. Thai AirAsia is growing its average stage lengths by up to 20% year-on-year, as it expands its international network, while its fleet has reached 20 aircraft, up from 17 in Jun-2009.

AirAsia’s Thai operating highlights: Apr-2010 to Jun-2010

Indonesia AirAsia’s load factors are also below the Malaysian operation, but a shade above the Thai unit. Its average stage lengths are also rising in the double-digit range year-on-year as it too expands its international presence. See related report: Five Indonesian airlines seek rights to Australia: Batavia, Sriwijaya, Mandala, Lion Air & AirAsia

Indonesia AirAsia operated 15 aircraft as at the end of last month, one fewer than the same period last year. Despite this, it expanded capacity by 29%, as a result of improved aircraft utilisation.

AirAsia’s Indonesian operating highlights: Apr-2010 to Jun-2010

AirAsia X considering New Zealand options

The group’s long-haul operation, AirAsia X, is meanwhile considering joining the competitive tussle on routes between Australia and New Zealand by the end of the year, possibly operating services between the Gold Coast and Perth and either Auckland or Christchurch. The carrier sees the potential alliance (and any capacity rationalisation) between Air New Zealand and Virgin Blue as a “golden opportunity” to enter the trans-Tasman market.

Jetstar to expand long-haul routes

Jetstar meanwhile will today announce further long-haul international network expansion plans. In May-2010, Jetstar confirmed plans to base two A330-200s in Singapore to launch long-haul services to Australia, North Asia and Europe from late 2010. The destinations will be revealed shortly.

Tiger Airways to mine ancillaries, introduce “vertical seating”

Tiger Airways Australia Managing Director, Crawford Rix, announced yesterday that the LCC would introduce charges for toilets, baggage and introduce "vertical seats," in a bid to put further downward pressure on fares.

Virgin Blue standing its ground

Virgin Blue’s Group Executive, Commercial Liz Savage has declared the airline will not give up the "very strong foothold we enjoy today in the leisure space" as it concurrently aims to gain a greater share of the corporate travel market.

Asia Pacific LCC stocks rise

In trading yesterday, Tiger Airways gained 0.5% in Singapore, AirAsia rose 1.4% and Virgin Blue was flat.

Elsewhere, Air Berlin rallied 2.7% as investors digested its move into oneworld. See related reports:

Selected LCCs daily share price movements (% change): 27-Jul-2010