Asiana Airlines' shares soar on demand recovery; China’s Big Three to be profitable in 1Q2010


Asian markets ended the week strongly on Friday, led by Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index (+1.6%), as positive retail sales in the US and strong earnings helped offset continuing concerns over Greece's debt levels.

Asiana Airlines expecting improved results in 1Q2010

In the South Korean market, shares in Asiana Airlines soared 11.9% on Friday (despite the Korea Composite Stock Price Index slipping 0.5%). Over the week, Asiana's shares rose 40.2% and are now trading at the highest level since Jun-2008. The carrier stated it expects record 1Q2010 results, with passenger and cargo traffic reportedly increasing 31.2% and 27.6% year-on-year, respectively.

The result is reportedly prompting creditors in the parent Kumho Group to consider giving Asiana more time to recover without creditor involvement. A decision regarding Asiana is reportedly expected to be announced at the end of Apr-2010. However, a key concern remains Asiana's high debt levels, currently standing at KRW3.7 trillion (USD3.3 billion), and reportedly increasing by KRW200 billion (USD181 million) p/a due to interest expenses.

South Korea's international passenger traffic up 22% in Mar-2010; up 10% from Mar-2008 levels

South Korea's Ministry of Land, Transport and Maritime Affairs meanwhile stated passenger traffic on international airline routes surged 21.9% year-on-year in Mar-2010, to 3.27 million. The figure represents a 9.7% increase from Mar-2008 levels. 

China Eastern expecting return to pre-global financial crisis traffic volumes in 2010

Similarly, China Eastern Chairman, stated he expects domestic air passenger traffic to register growth exceeding 20% in 2010, adding traffic could reach pre-global financial crisis levels "if no major disaster occurs". Mr Liu added the carrier plans to increase its revenue ratio from international and domestic services from 3:7 to 4:6. Shares in the carrier gained 0.3% on Friday.

The "worst is over" with premium demand recovering: ANA CEO

Also in North Asia, All Nippon Airways President and CEO, Shinichiro Ito, in an interview with Bloomberg, stated the "worst is over", with premium demand showing signs of "recovery". ANA's shares surged 5.2%.

Qantas CEO, Alan Joyce, also reiterated that Business demand is recovering, but added that some markets are improving more strongly than others, with the UK and US remaining relatively weak. Leisure demand has also remained strong for the carrier, despite repeated interest rate increases in Australia. Qantas' shares rose 0.7% on Friday.

Meanwhile, shares in Air New Zealand gained 2.1% (setting a new two-year high in intra-day trading) on optimism that the Rugby World Cup will stimulate demand in 2011. The carrier also signed a codeshare arrangement with Continental Airlines.

For this and more coverage of the region’s aviation updates, subscribe to Asia Pacific Airline Daily. Other highlights in today’s edition include:

Asia Pacific selected airlines daily share price movements (% change): 09-Apr-2010

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