ANALYSIS: Asia-Pacific market outlook May 2014

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Jiuyuan Airlines stole the headlines in the Asia Pacific this May with its commitment for 50 Boeing 737 aircraft, with the order to include the re-engined Max variant of the venerable type. The planned low cost carrier, a unit of Juneyao Airlines, plans to launch operations this year from its base in Guangzhou.

In a long-awaited move to update its narrowbody fleet, Royal Brunei Airlines ordered seven Airbus A320neos, with the aircraft to be powered by Pratt & Whitney’s PW1100G-JM.

EVA Airways revealed that it is negotiating the lease of six additional 777-300ERs and could order at least five 787-10s. A spokesman from the privately-owned carrier says the additional leased 777s should be delivered to the airline between 2016 and 2017. EVA already operates 17 -300ERs.

Meanwhile, AirAsia India secured its air operators permit, and said that its inaugural flight will take off from Chennai on 12 June. AirAsia’s entry into the competitive Indian market stoked concerns of overcapacity re-emerging has a major issue among Indian carriers.

Also in the subcontinent, SriLankan formally joined the Oneworld alliance at a ceremony in the country’s newest airport, Hamboanta.

Singapore Airlines said that after careful analysis it will install premium economy on its Airbus A380 and Boeing 777-300ER aircraft. The new product will be introduced in the second half of 2015.

Other news from Singapore was not so positive. After just 21 months on the job, Tigerair chief executive Koay Peng Yen was replaced by SIA veteran Lee Lik Hsin. Koay’s departure follows a dismal 2014 fiscal year. For the financial year ended 31 March, the carrier suffered a S$52 million ($41.5 million) loss, with revenue falling 15.3% to S$734 million.

Vietnamese low cost upstart VietJet told Flightglobal it is looking at launching a long haul unit to serve the USA, Europe, and Australia. It is also keen to get its Thai VietJet unit up and running, but that the unit’s air operator’s certificate (AOC) has been delayed by the political turmoil in Bangkok.

ASIA-PACIFIC AIRLINE NEWS: MAY SNAPSHOT

May saw a number of Asia Pacific carriers reporting results, with carriers large and small struggling with fuel costs, unfavourable exchange rates, and competition.

India’s Jet Airways posted a net loss of Rs36.7 billion ($624 million) for the full year ended 31 march. The dismal earnings prompted the full service carrier to issue a statement stating that it will restructure its network and fleet.

Indian low cost carrier SpiceJet saw its operating loss double to Rs10 billion for the year ended on 31 March, a fivefold increase over the previous year.

China Eastern Airlines saw its 2014 fiscal first quarter operating loss widen to CNY1.1 billion ($183 million).

China Airlines saw its operating profit for the quarter ended 31 March fall 14% to NT$1.67 billion ($55.3 million).

Thai Airways recorded a first quarter operating loss of Bt2.3 billion ($71 million).

Singapore Airlines group saw its net profit for the financial year ended 31 march drop 5% to S$360 million ($287 million), although its operating profit rose 13% to S$259 million. It had a tough fourth quarter, however, with net profits diving 60% to S$27 million.

Malaysia Airlines suffered a pre-tax loss of MYR439 million ($136 million) for the quarter ended 31 March, 58% worse than the same period in 2013. It said the loss of flight MH370 on 8 March had a “dramatic” impact on its bookings.

ASIA-PACIFIC AIRLINE TRAFFIC: APRIL

Passenger traffic among Asia-Pacific carrier grew in line with capacity in April at around 7% over the same month last year. Traffic figures for a dozen carriers show RPKs were 7.2% higher on capacity raised 7.1%. The figures do not include traffic data yet for Thai Airways, for which passenger numbers have been hard hit this year amid continued political uncertainty in the country.

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AAPA MEMBER TRAFFIC BY MARKET: MARCH

Passenger load factor was down nearly three points among Association of Asia-Pacific Airlines members in March, in part reflecting Easter falling in April this year rather than in March in 2013.

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ASIA-PACIFIC AIRLINE FLEET SUMMARY: MAY

Figures from Flightglobal’s Ascend Online database show over 6,500 aircraft in active service among Asia-Pacific airlines in May and almost 500 parked.

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