Virgin Blue traffic falls 5% in March

Virgin Blue's passenger numbers fell 5.2% in in Mar-2011, principally as a result of the withdrawal of Pacific Blue from the domestic NZ market, as well as the late Easter and softness in Australian domestic demand. Load factors in the month eased 2.2 percentage points. Shares in the carrier fell 3.4% on Friday.

Virgin Blue traffic highlights for Mar-2011:

  • Passenger numbers: 1.5 million, -5.2% year-on-year;
    • Domestic: 1.4 million, -1.2%;
    • International: 180,929, -27.3%;
  • Load factor: 76.3%, -2.2 ppts;
    • Domestic: 80.5%, -3.1 ppts;
    • International: 70.1%, -0.6 ppt;
  • Average aircraft in fleet: 89.1, +6.2%;
  • On-time performance: 77.4%, -9.0 ppts.

The Virgin Blue group has also expanded its codeshare agreement with Delta Air Lines to increase services across the US, Australia and New Zealand. V Australia - Virgin Blue’s long-haul subsidiary - will add San Francisco, Las Vegas, Atlanta and Detroit to its operations while Delta will codeshare on flights between Sydney and Perth, Adelaide, Canberra, Auckland and Christchurch. 

In fuel news, Hainan Airlines, China Eastern Airlines, Shanghai Airlines, Cathay Pacific and Dragonair all increased their international fuel surcharges. Details include:

  • Hainan Airlines: Increased fuel surcharges on services from Europe from CNY900 to CNY1000 per sector, effective 18-Apr-2011;
  • China Eastern and Shanghai Airlines: Increased fuel surcharges on services between mainland China and Southeast Asia (excluding Vietnam), South Asia and the Middle East from CNY300-CNY400 to CNY450 per sector, effective 20-Apr-2011;
  • Cathay Pacific and Dragonair: Will increase fuel surcharges on services between Hong Kong and mainland China from USD24.9 to USD28.5 per sector, effective 01-May-2011.

Hainan Airlines shares were 5.9% higher on Friday, while China Eastern gained 0.6% and Cathay Pacific fell 1.1%.

Indian state-owned oil firms increased jet fuel prices on 30-Apr-2011. Prices were lifted INR156 (USD3.53) to INR237 (USD5.37) per kilolitre, marking the 14th straight increase in rates since Oct-2010. Indian airline shares were lower on Friday: SpiceJet fell 4.8%, with Kingfisher down 1.9% and Jet Airways 0.3% lower.

Selected Asia Pacific airline share price movements (% change): 29-Apr-2011