KUALA LUMPUR: Budget airline AirAsia Bhd saw a marginal 1% increase in passenger numbers for the third quarter ended Sept 30 of financial year 2014 (3QFY14) to 10.74 million from 10.61 million a year ago, as capacity dropped 1% year-on-year (y-o-y).
Nevertheless, the group reported that its load factor, or percentage of seats filled with paying passengers, was up two percentage points (ppts) to 78% from 3QFY13.
In its preliminary operating statistics released yesterday, AirAsia said only four aircraft were added into the system in 3QFY14 (compared with 34 additional aircraft in 3QFY13), bringing the total fleet size of the group to 171 as at Sept 30, 2014.
For its Malaysian sector, AirAsia carried a marginal 0.5% more passengers to 5.29 million in the July to September 2014 quarter from 5.26 million a year ago.
“As the third quarter is seasonally a weak quarter for Malaysia due to the month of Ramadan falling in July, the management had allocated only one aircraft for Malaysia AirAsia in 3QFY14. This brings Malaysia AirAsia’s total fleet to 81 aircraft, an addition of 15 aircraft year-on-year,” said AirAsia.
Malaysia AirAsia reported a load factor of 77% in 3QFY14, unchanged from a year ago.
Meanwhile, Thai AirAsia’s number of passengers carried in 3QFY14 rose 12% to 2.85 million from 2.56 million a year ago, in line with a 13% increase in capacity.
Its load factor for 3QFY14 stood at 82%, down one ppt mainly due to the political situation and sluggish economic growth.
However, AirAsia’s Indonesian sector recorded a 10% fall in the number of passengers carried, with 1.85 million in 3QFY14 compared with 2.6 million a year ago.
“[This was on the back of] a 15% decrease in capacity as the management continued with its route rationalisation exercise during this challenging time where the country was hit by a depreciating rupiah and caused increase in operating cost,” said AirAsia.
Philippines’ AirAsia also carried 15% less passengers to 617,878 in 3QFY14 compared with 730,005 in 3QFY13. There was also a 23% drop in capacity in 3QFY14.
Meanwhile, this quarter is the first time AirAsia India’s operating statistics are disclosed and included in the group’s numbers. In 3QFY14, AirAsia India carried 128,089 passengers, with a load factor of 75% and two aircraft in its fleet.
In a separate statement, AirAsia’s long-haul, low-cost affiliate AirAsia X Bhd said it carried 24% more passengers in 3QFY14 to 1.04 million from 843,693 a year ago, despite significantly softer market conditions.
AirAsia X said it achieved a passenger load factor of above 80% in 3QFY14, on the back of a 24% y-o-y growth in available seat kilometres — which measures an airline’s passenger carrying capacity — to 6.37 billion compared with 5.14 billion in 3QFY13.
This article first appeared in The Edge Financial Daily, on November 11, 2014.