AirAsia Group records healthy load factor in Q1, despite COVID-19

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KUALA LUMPUR, April 27 – AirAsia Group Bhd reported a healthy group-wide load factor of 80 per cent for the first quarter (Q1) of 2020, which was better than its expected 77 per cent, despite weak travel demand due to unprecedented travel restrictions following the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This was achieved through proactive capacity management, particularly in the months of February and March, with the cuts most notable in AirAsia Malaysia and AirAsia Thailand,” it said in a statement today on its preliminary Q1 operating statistics.

Group-wide passenger capacity, meanwhile, was lower by about seven per cent year-on-year (y-o-y) at 21.42 million during the quarter.

The group consolidated airline operating companies (AOCs) — comprising the Malaysian, Indonesian and Philippine operations — recorded a steady load factor of 78 per cent, but the number of passengers carried was down 21 per cent y-o-y to 9.9 million as capacity was reduced by 11 per cent.

During the quarter under review, AirAsia Malaysia cut its capacity by 17 per cent y-o-y, as business was heavily interrupted in light of the increase in COVID-19 cases in many markets and the imposed Movement Control Order in Malaysia that began on March 18.

Carrying 27 per cent less passengers y-o-y, it achieved a reasonably strong load factor of 77 per cent.

AirAsia Indonesia posted a 10 per cent y-o-y rise in capacity for Q1 2020 although its available seat kilometres (ASK) retracted by four per cent as the company re-deployed excess capacity from international to domestic sectors.

“Passengers carried decreased by seven per cent as travel demand in the region started to weaken, while load factor was moderate at 74 per cent. During the quarter, AirAsia Indonesia began flying Jakarta-Medan,” the group said.

AirAsia Philippines flew 1.8 million passengers, down nine per cent against to the same quarter last year. Capacity slipped by one per cent y-o-y as domestic routes and international routes were halted beginning mid-March 2020, while load factor was solid at 84 per cent.

As for AirAsia Thailand, the capacity realignment and route rationalisation it had embarked on in 2019 continued during the quarter to match the low travel demand.

“Capacity was reduced by 17 per cent while ASK declined by 30 per cent, as AirAsia Thailand’s network was realigned through frequency reduction and flight suspension on international routes due to increasing travel restrictions and redeployment of excess capacity to domestic sectors,” the group added.

AirAsia Thailand recorded 84 per cent in load factor as it carried 4.5 million passengers, 23 per cent lower than a year earlier.

Meanwhile, AirAsia India reported a 30 per cent growth in passengers carried to 2.5 million with the 43 per cent additional capacity contributed by 10 more aircraft y-o-y. The 49 per cent-owned joint-venture company closed the quarter with a sizable fleet of 30 aircraft and load factor remained steady at 81 per cent despite rising travel concerns.

AirAsia Japan, the smallest airline under the group, expanded its capacity by 48 per cent while ASK increased by 30 per cent y-o-y with the addition of its latest route, Nagoya-Sendai, which was launched in the third quarter of 2019. Load factor was soft at 72 per cent for the quarter under review as passengers carried increased at a slower rate of 32 per cent y-o-y.

AirAsia Group said it aimed to end 2020 with 244 aircraft, a net reduction of one aircraft from 245 aircraft as at end 2019.

BERNAMA