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Pegasus Airlines: still galloping (just), but no longer flying high, as Turkey events slow demand

Pegasus fell into loss in 2016, extending an unbroken trend of falling operating margins from the peak in the year of its stock market flotation in 2013. A series of geopolitical and terrorist events in Turkey weighed on market demand, leading to a drop in traffic in 2016.

Against this difficult backdrop, Pegasus slowed its expansion to single digits after years of double digit growth, but this remained ambitious in a falling market. In addition, its fleet grew faster than its traffic, piling on cost that did not generate sufficient revenue. It is now wet leasing aircraft to other airlines and deferring some new deliveries.

Pegasus' capacity growth is set to slow further in 2017, but it still looks fairly aggressive in a market that is again falling (according to OAG data). An increased focus on cost management may bring down ex fuel unit cost, but against this are rising fuel prices. Pegasus is likely to find a return to break even in 2017 to be a real challenge. In 2013 its margin was similar to those of its fellow ultra LCCs Ryanair and Wizz Air, but it has followed a worryingly divergent path since then.

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