China Southern introduces domestic premium-economy seats; AirAsia sees “strong” 1Q2010 earnings

Chinese airlines’ shares rose on Thursday, on expectations of a stronger Yuan, which would help reduce the cost of aviation fuel and aircraft purchases. China Southern and China Eastern led the way, with gains of 5.3% and 5.6%, respectively, while shares in Air China were up 2.0%. Hainan Airlines’ shares slipped 1.1%.

Also yesterday, China Southern Airlines stated it would become the nation’s first carrier to offer premium-economy seating on domestic services, with the carrier to introduce the new cabin from 28-Mar-2010. The carrier plans to have 7,000 premium economy seats on almost 300 aircraft by Jul-2010.   

Thai Airways expecting improved profits in 1Q2010; needs to raise USD1.6 billion to repay debts and finance expansion plan

Thai Airways’ shares slipped 1.8%, as the carrier’s President, Piyasvasti Amranand, stated the carrier needs to raise USD1.6 billion in 2010, to repay debts and finance expansion plans. The carrier plans to acquire the funding through its proposed share offer bank loans and debenture issues.  However, the carrier stated it expects 1Q2010 operating profit to be improved from 4Q2009 levels, as a result of increasing yield and load factor. Load factors for the quarter are expected to average 80%, compared to 72-73% in 1Q2009 and 74% in 4Q2009.

During Feb-2010, the carrier reported an average load factor of 82.3% (+5.0 ppts), with 1.7 million passengers and 51,567 tonnes of cargo handled, for year-on-year reductions of 11.7% and 31.9%, respectively.

AirAsia sees “strong” 1Q2010 earnings; no need for further capital

Among the region’s LCCs, AirAsia CEO, Tony Fernandes, told Bloomberg that the carrier’s 1Q2010 earnings are “looking strong” and the carrier does not need to raise further capital. Mr Fernandes added 1Q2010 passenger numbers have been “very strong” and forward bookings for 2Q2010 are currently higher than 2Q2009. Shares in the carrier gained 3.9% yesterday.

Tiger Airways mandates Standard Chartered Bank for additional aircraft financing deals

Meanwhile, Tiger Airways signed an agreement with Standard Chartered Bank for two new multi-million dollar financing deals for the pre-delivery payments (PDP) of six aircraft to Airbus and the purchase of an additional seven aircraft. The carrier’s President and CEO, Tony Davis, commented, that the “savings in operational costs, compared to leasing aircraft, will enable us to keep offering the lowest possible fares to our customers”. Shares in the Singapore-based LCC fell 1.7% yesterday. 

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

  • Air New Zealand to cut Business class and reduce fares on Tasman Pacific services;
  • Air India blames B787 denies for inability to operate profitable international routes;
  • Royal Jordanian to receive first B787s in Oct-2013;
  • FedEx Corp revenue up 6.9%, profits surge in 3QFY2010;
  • Embraer revenue down 11.5%, profits mixed in 4Q2009.

Asia Pacific selected airlines daily share price movements (% change): 18-Mar-2010