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SE Asian LCCs: up-gauging to high density narrowbody aircraft will impact capacity - and order books

LCCs in Southeast Asian are starting to respond to growing infrastructure constraints at several airports in the region by up-gauging aircraft. The use of larger and higher density narrowbody aircraft is logical as it maximises the use of precious slots; but is also somewhat alarming given the huge order book for the Southeast Asian LCC sector. The prospect of the fleet more than doubling in size over the next decade plus an increase in average aircraft size will have a significant impact on the capacity balance in the market.

Several of the region’s A320 operators have ordered or are looking at acquiring A321s. The first A321 in the Southeast Asian LCC sector was only delivered earlier this year to VietJet Air. Over the next few years A321s will become the backbone of the fleet for VietJet, Cebu Pacific and potentially other Southeast Asian LCCs such as Garuda's Citilink, resulting in an up to 33% increase in capacity before factoring in any expansion of the fleet.

Some of Southeast Asia’s LCC groups are also starting to deploy widebody aircraft on short haul trunk routes connecting airports where slots are at a premium.

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