AirAsia 4Q load factor falls 3% despite passenger numbers, capacity up

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KUALA LUMPUR (Feb 17): Budget airline AirAsia Bhd saw a 3% drop in passenger load factor to 78% for the fourth quarter ended Dec 31, 2014 (4QFY14) from 81% a year ago, even though the number of passengers carried rose 2% year-on-year, along with a 5% increase in capacity.

In a statement today, AirAsia (fundamental: 1.3; valuation: 1.8) said the number of passengers carried for 4QFY14 rose to 12.07 million from 11.81 million in 4QFY13, while one additional aircraft was added into the system during the quarter under review.

For the financial year ended Dec 31, 2014 (FY14), the airline recorded a 7% growth in passengers to 45.58 million from 42.61 million in FY13.

"This was in line with the growth in capacity which stood at 8%," said AirAsia, adding that 18 new aircraft were added into the system, bringing the total fleet size to 172 at end-2014.

For Malaysia AirAsia (MAA) alone, the airline said it posted a load factor of 78% in 4QFY14, on the back of an unchanged growth in the number of passengers carried to 5.9 million and an 8% increase in capacity year-on-year.

"Balancing load factor and yield was key as the management prioritised on driving fares up, taking advantage of a better fare environment," it added.

MAA introduced three new international routes in 4QFY14: Johor Baru–Bandung; Kuala Lumpur–Clark and Hyderabad.

"No additional aircraft was added into Malaysia in 4QFY14, but for the full year, MAA took in nine new aircraft and closed 2014 with 81 aircraft in total," said AirAsia.

For FY14, MAA recorded a load factor of 79% and carried 22.14 million passengers, up 1% from 21.85 million in FY13.

AirAsia's Thai associate Thai AirAsia, meanwhile, recorded a 79% load factor in 4QFY14.

Total number of passengers carried in 4QFY14 increased 16% to 3.44 million from 2.96 million a year ago, with 19% year-on-year increase in capacity.

"Thai AirAsia did not take any additional aircraft in 4QFY14, hence it closed the year with 40 aircraft in total, up 5 aircraft from 2013," said AirAsia.

For the full year, Thai AirAsia posted a load factor of 80%, with a 16% increase in the number of passengers carried at 12.21 million from 10.5 million.

For Indonesia AirAsia (IAA), it recorded a load factor of 80% despite a capacity reduction of 14% and the number of passengers carried dropping by 11% in 4QFY14.

"IAA did not receive any additional aircraft this quarter and none for this year as a whole as part of its turnaround plan, therefore its total fleet at the end of 2014 was maintained at 30 aircraft," said AirAsia.

For FY14, IAA posted a 2% increase in load factor to 78%, while the total number of passengers carried was unchanged at 7.85 million.

Philippines’ AirAsia (PAA), meanwhile, reported a load factor of 72% in 4QFY14, a big increase from 64% a year ago.

This was mainly attributed to a 32% year-on-year drop in capacity, while its number of passengers carried saw a 24% year-on-year drop.

"During the quarter, no additional aircraft was added into PAA, as management was focus on turning around the associate with its current resources, hence PAA closed the year with a total fleet of 15 aircraft, down 2 aircraft from 4QFY13.

For FY14, PAA recorded an increase of 7% in its load factor to 70% and carried a total of 3.0 million passengers, up 36% from FY13.

AirAsia India carried 217,209 passengers with a strong load factor of 83% in 4QFY14.

"For FY14, taking into account that the statistics from AirAsia India were only disclosed from June 2014 onwards, AirAsia India recorded a load factor of 80% with a total of 0.35 million passengers carried," said AirAsia.

As at 3.24pm, AirAsia shares were up 1.15% at RM2.65, bringing a market capitalisation of RM7.35 billion.

(Note: The Edge Research's fundamental score reflects a company’s profitability and balance sheet strength, calculated based on historical numbers. The valuation score determines if a stock is attractively valued or not, also based on historical numbers. A score of 3 suggests strong fundamentals and attractive valuations.)