(Updated)

AirAsia Group records highest quarterly consolidated load factor since pandemic began

AirAsia Group records highest quarterly consolidated load factor since pandemic began
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KUALA LUMPUR (Jan 27): AirAsia Group Bhd’s combined operations across Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines recorded the group’s highest quarterly load factor at 80% in the fourth quarter ended Dec 31, 2021 (4QFY21) since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic in early 2020 as the budget airline’s number of passengers carried, which more than doubled from a year earlier, surpassed the quantum of the airline’s capacity growth.

AirAsia Group undertakes its Malaysia, Indonesia and Philippines operations via the company’s respective Air Operating Certificates (AOCs) in these countries, according to AirAsia Group’s statement on Thursday (Jan 27).

"In FY21, the load factor for the consolidated AOCs remained healthy at 74% with strategies implemented to manage the multiple disruptive lockdowns imposed by respective governments,” AirAsia Group said.

"The improved monthly performance of passengers carried and additional capacity across the group indicate a V-shaped resumption trend in air travel demand throughout 2021. 

"Additionally, the group is expecting to see a surge in demand following the recent announcements that the Thai government is resuming its quarantine-free travel scheme from Feb 1, 2022 and the Malaysia government resumed the Vaccinated Travel Lane (VTL) between Malaysia and Singapore, effective Jan 24, 2022,” AirAsia Group said.

For 4QFY21, AirAsia Group said it recorded its highest quarterly consolidated load factor across its Malaysia, Indonesia and Philippines operations at 80% since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic while the airline’s capacity increased 70% to 3.4 million seats from a year earlier.

"Passengers carried increased 103% to 2.7 million year-on-year (y-o-y) in 4Q21 which surpassed the capacity increase of 70%, leading to a 13 percentage points (ppts) improvement in load factor to 80%. 

"Available seat kilometres (ASK) grew by 72% y-o-y, primarily attributable to strong demand from the introduction of quarantine-free travel bubbles for Malaysia and the easing of travel restrictions in 4QFY21,” AirAsia Group said.

According to AirAsia Group, its Malaysian operations’ number of passengers carried and airline capacity increased by 164% and 139% respectively in 4QFY21 from a year earlier on rising demand for flights after the reopening of state borders announced by the government.

Load factor increased 7ppts y-o-y and 19ppts quarter-on-quarter (q-o-q) to 80% in conjunction with the year-end festive season and increased flight frequencies for high demand routes including between Kuala Lumpur and Langkawi, followed by the Kuala Lumpur to Kota Kinabalu route in November and December 2021. 

"It is the company's expectation that the uptrend in demand for interstate travel will continue after the government allows fully vaccinated residents to cross state lines,” AirAsia Group said.

According to the group, AirAsia Indonesia posted a load factor of 87% in December 2021 and 81% for 4QFY21.

The 4QFY21 load factor for AirAsia Indonesia at 81% was a 22ppt y-o-y growth, AirAsia Group said. 

"This was driven by an increased frequency of flights in line with growing demand, particularly in December 2021. 

"Passengers carried in the last month of the year rose nearly seven-fold compared to November 2021,” AirAsia Group said.

Meanwhile, AirAsia Philippines’ seats sold in 4QFY21 doubled from 3QFY21 and compared to a year earlier, 4QFY21 capacity increased 126%, AirAsia Group said.

"In 4QFY21, the load factor reached its highest quarterly performance outcome in 2021 at 85%, jumping by 21ppts y-o-y. 

"This was achieved from strong pent-up demand in a number of core destinations including Cebu, Cagayan de Oro, Boracay, and Tacloban. ASK soared 114% y-o-y to 285 million from 133 million,” AirAsia Group said.

AirAsia Thailand operated more domestic capacity in 4QFY21 than the previous quarter on robust demand for flights, AirAsia Group said.

Due to the reallocation of AirAsia Thailand’s capacity and flights to align with the gradual improvement in demand, its load factor in 4QFY21 was 76%, up 2ppts from a year earlier despite the spread of Covid-19’s Omicron variant that began in late December 2021, according to AirAsia Group.

"For FY21, domestic travel demand rebounded in March 2021 after the first [Covid-19] vaccination drive was rolled out in Thailand. However, Thailand’s [Covid-19] infection cases rose in July 2021 and in compliance with the state containment effort, AirAsia Thailand announced a temporary suspension of domestic operations between July 12, 2021 and Sept 2, 2021. 

"For the full year, the total number of passengers carried was 2.93 million, declining by 69% y-o-y, in line with the deduction of ASK and capacity. In FY21, load factor was reported at 68% with a total fleet of 60 aircraft,” AirAsia Group said.

At Bursa Malaysia on Thursday, AirAsia Group’s share price closed down one sen or 1.69% at 58 sen for a market value of about RM2.41 billion.

AirAsia Group’s latest-reported number of issued shares stood at 4.16 billion shares, according to its Bursa filing on Thursday.

Chong Jin Hun