AirAsia operating at 19% of pre-pandemic capacity; Malaysia unit at only 8% — report

AirAsia operating at 19% of pre-pandemic capacity; Malaysia unit at only 8% — report
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KUALA LUMPUR (July 1): AirAsia Group Bhd is operating at 19% of its pre-pandemic capacity, logging just over 2,000 outbound flights planned for the week of July 19, 2021 compared with 10,800 for the same week in 2019, according to an aviation news portal.

Simple Flight reported that AirAsia’s senior manager of network planning Andreu Parés Prat said the performance of each market is greatly dependent on the condition of individual countries, their respective vaccination rates, and when borders will be opened again.

“[Unfortunately], we have had a huge spike in cases in Malaysia. Currently, the country is pretty much on full lockdown so travel is really limited and just for essential purposes. 

“I would say that right now we are currently at one of the lowest levels we have seen. But hopefully, we’ll have some news on this lockdown coming up soon,” he said.

Parés Prat added that the Malaysia unit is usually a core unit with Kuala Lumpur typically being the number one airport for the group.

Despite having the largest domestic network of any unit, the Malaysia unit is only operating at 8% capacity when compared to 2019 pre-pandemic levels, with over 2,000 weekly departures lost, reducing its domestic network to just 21 routes. 

Consequently, the Malaysia unit is now only ranked fourth in planned departures, behind AirAsia India, Thai AirAsia and Indonesia AirAsia, with only Philippines AirAsia and AirAsia X having fewer departures.

Parés Prat noted that the recovery of domestic markets is crucial to airlines worldwide, which is underscored by AirAsia India's current position as its leading unit due to its exclusively domestic network.

He added that as borders remain virtually closed, with domestic departures being at 33% of pre-coronavirus levels and international departures at just 1%, therefore the group is planning more domestic departures than international.

“Mostly we are focused on domestic; international for Malaysia is very minimal at the moment. That is mainly because leisure is not allowed internationally and the recipient countries are also all pretty much fully closed.

“In Thailand, we are not flying scheduled international flights at all because of the borders. In the Philippines and Indonesia, the cases are still pretty high, but in the Phillippines we are seeing an uptick [in] demand. Leisure is allowed in certain regions so we are starting to ramp up,” he said.

Despite the heavy restrictions imposed by certain countries, Parés Prat said that with AirAsia’s ability to ramp up quickly, he remains hopeful.

“Across the network, when there have not been any restrictions we have been able to ramp up very fast in domestic markets; we are very reactive to that. As soon as we can, we deploy capacity and we actually see good load factors and fares,” he added.

At 12.30pm, AirAsia’s share price dipped half a sen or 0.56% to 88.5 sen, giving the group a market capitalisation of about RM3.47 billion.

Lam Jian Wyn