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Formed and started operations in 2007. Formerly FAX - Fly Asian Xpress. Low Cost Carrier (LCC) operating long-haul, international, scheduled and charter, passenger and cargo, jet airplane services.
Kuala Lumpur International Airport
98000 Sepang, Selangor, Malaysia
Malaysia (Federation of Malaysia) was established in 1957, it covers an area of 329, 749 sq km, its population is 21 million, its capital city is Kuala Lumpur, and its official language is Malay.
July 2006: AirAsia (ASW) subcontracts rural turboprop services to FAX - Fly Asian Xpress, which intends to begin operations August 1.
January 2007: AirAsia (ASW) could be the next major takeover target in Asia, according to the Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation (CAPA). "The Asian market is a fertile breeding ground for investor opportunities, with equal doses of liberalization and new travelers opening up massive traffic expansion opportunities," (CAPA) Executive Chairman, Peter Harbison said. "AirAsia (ASW) has the attractions of a large and expanding market share, the lowest airline costs in the world, a brand name to die for, and unquestionable recent profitability."
AirAsia (ASW) is planning to establish a long-haul budget airline, according to local press reports, through regional affiliate FAX - FlyAsian Xpress (FSX), in which (ASW) (CEO), Tony Fernandes holds 50%.
(ASW) Executive Director, Kamarudin Meranum holds a 30% stake in (FSX) and Raja Azmi, (ASW)'s former (CFO) and current (FSX) (CEO), owns the rest. (FSX) flies throughout east Malaysia, using seven F 50s, 50Y passengers and five DHC-3 Twin Otters, 19Y passengers. For the moment, all of its flights are domestic, but according to its website, "it will extend services to international destinations in the future."
(FSX) is expected to form a strategic alliance with European carriers. Several newspapers mentioned that Fernandes would be teaming with Richard Branson of the Virgin Group (VAA) and easyJet (EZY)'s Stelios Haji-Ioannou. Both Virgin Atlantic Airways (VAA) and easyJet (EZY) denied they were in talks with AirAsia (ASW) or its owners to form a global low-cost alliance, "Reuters" said. "We are not joining any alliance," an easyJet (EZY) spokesperson told the news agency. "The whole low-cost carrier (LCC) business model is based on simplicity." Fernandes is scheduled to unveil at a news conference "a revolutionary service that will change the face of aviation travel forever," (ASW) said.
The new low-cost, long-haul venture reportedly would launch from Kuala Lumpur International's low-cost terminal to Manchester and Amritsar. In a second phase, it would operate to Hangzhou and Tianjin, and either London Luton or Stansted.
Later, FlyAsianExpress (FSX) received approval from the Malaysian government to operate low-cost, long-haul service to Asia, Australia and Europe, the national "Bernama" news agency reported.
"In order to turn Malaysia into the most advanced hub for international budget flight services, the government has given traffic rights to (FSX) to operate long-haul budget flight services," Transport Minister, Chan Kong Choy said in a statement cited by the Associated Press. "The destinations allocated do not include international flights currently handled by Malaysia Airlines (MAS)."
(FSX) will operate flights to destinations in Asia and Europe as "AirAsia X (ASX)," a new long-haul, low-cost carrier launched by (ASW) CEO, Tony Fernandes. "(ASX)"'s initial services will be to a UK city and to Guangzhou and Tianjin.
Fernandes said during a launch ceremony in Malaysia and in a statement, that the new carrier is seeking to acquire up to 20 airplanes, either A330-300s or 777-300ERs, with an order decision coming within a month. Additionally, he confirmed that (ASW) is planning to increase its A320 orders, currently at 100, by as many as 100, as part of an effort to become Asia's largest airline within seven years. He said "(ASX)" reached a 30-year agreement with (ASW) to use the brand name and (ASW)'s website for bookings, but that (FSX) will operate the flights independently. (ASW)'s board is considering buying a stake in (FSX), he added. In addition to Fernandes's 50% holding in (FSX)/"(ASX)," (ASW) Executive Director, Kamarudin Meranun controls a 30% stake and former (ASW) CFO, Raja Azmi owns the remaining 20%.
Fernandes said "(ASX)" will "bring independence to the long-haul low-cost" market by giving consumers broader choices. "Customers can expect exciting and unbelievably low fares for their long-haul travel, due to the significant cost saving opportunities within the long-haul low-cost business model," he said. He predicted the airline will carry 500,000 passengers in its first year of operations. Services are expected to start in July. (ASW) said in a regulatory filing, that it plans to take an initial 20% stake in (FSX), the small Malaysian domestic airline 50% owned by (ASW) CEO, Tony Fernandes, that will launch long-haul, low-cost service in July under the brand name "(ASX)." (FSX) won authority recently to operate long-haul routes not served by Malaysia Airlines (MAS), and Fernandes said initial flights would be to a UK city, Guangzhou and Tianjin. (ASW) has the option to raise its stake to 30%, it said in the filing, widely cited by Malaysian media.
March 2007: AirAsia (ASW)'s planned low-cost, long-haul AirAsia "X" (ASX) service, originally scheduled to start in July with flights to the UK, likely will be delayed until next year owing to lack of airplanes, according to press reports. "We are looking at the cost structure, the right airplanes," CEO, Raja Azmi Mohamad told Malaysian media, the BBC reported.
April 2007: AirAsia X (ASX) plans to place an order next month for up to 15 A330-300s, "The Financial Times" reported. (ASX), owned by FlyAsianExpress (FSX) and spearheaded by Air Asia (ASW) CEO, Tony Fernandes, had intended to launch in July but said last month it would push its start date back until the fourth quarter at the earliest, owing to a lack of airplanes. It initially will operate flights from Malaysia to a UK city and at least one Chinese city. It reportedly will lease airplanes so it can operate while awaiting A330 deliveries.
(FSX), operator of (ASW)'s new long-haul, low-cost (ASX) subsidiary, confirmed its order for 10 A330-300s for delivery starting late next year. The deal also includes five options. The airline had evaluated the 777, but was unable to secure early delivery positions. (ASW)'s Tony Fernandes said (ASX) hopes to be flying 25 A330-300s in the next five years, according to "AFX News," which also reported that the airplanes will be configured in two classes.
June 2007: (FSX) ceased operating most domestic services following a dispute with Malaysia Airlines (MAS) concerning the maintenance of its Fokker F 50s.
July 2007: Airbus (EDS) continued its strong Paris Air Show by signing firm orders for 15 A330-300s plus 10 options for AirAsiaX (ASX). Startup long-haul Low Cost Carrier (LCC) AirAsia X (ASX) founder, Tony Fernandes said the carrier, slated to launch in September, will stake its future on the A330.
August 2007: Fresh from his trip to the USA for the launch of Virgin America (VUS), Virgin Atlantic Airways (VAA) Chairman, Richard Branson was in Kuala Lumpur to announce that his Virgin (VAA) Group purchased a 20% share of Malaysia's FlyAsianExpress (FSX), which will operate low-cost, long-haul flights as AirAsia X (ASX). (ASX) expects to launch service next month. (ASX) has three A330s on lease and has ordered 10 396-seat A330-300s plus five options. Recently, it announced that it has secured rights to fly from Kuala Lumpur to Melbourne's Avalon Airport - - home of Low Cost Carrier (LCC) Jetstar Airways (IMU) - - and London Stansted. Chairman, Kalimullah Hassan told reporters he expected to launch Australian service at the end of September. No other destinations or details were revealed.
Branson said he believed (ASW)'s success would be replicated by (ASX) in the long-haul market. "I am thrilled to be able to support them in this venture and look forward to seeing low-cost, long-haul travel being opened up from their base in Malaysia," he said.
Interestingly, Singapore Airlines (SIA), which may one day find itself competing with (ASX), holds a 49% stake in Branson's Virgin Atlantic Airways (VAA).
September 2007: AirAsia X (ASX)'s first 396-seat, A330-301 (054), ex-Air Madrid (AMD), AWAS (AWW) leased, is due to arrive in Kuala Lumpur for the carrier's service launch later this month. The A330 will be the first of three leased by (ASX) to arrive with another 10 on firm order to be delivered next year. (ASX) initially will launch flights from Kuala Lumpur to Melbourne Avalon and London Stansted.
(ASX) officially announced its first long-haul, low-cost route and open bookings, said CEO, Azran Osman-Rani. The carrier is slated to meet with Australian regulatory authorities and "then we hope to confirm the destination," Osman-Rani said. Though he did not specifically confirm the route, previous reports have indicated it will be Kuala Lumpur - Melbourne Avalon. The route, scheduled to be launched in late October, initially will be flown four-times-weekly. Its first Chinese route, to be operated five-times-weekly, should commence in December pending regulatory approval by (CAAC) (CAC).
(ASX)'s first airplane, an A330 leased from (AWAS) (AWW), arrived in Kuala Lumpur and is undergoing final technical checks. "We anticipate the Malaysian government will issue the designation letter and issue our Airplane Operators Certificate (AOC)," Osman-Rani said. He added that the carrier actively is seeking two A340s to lease, until its 10 new A330s begin arriving late next year. The A340s "will have less seats but will allow us to fly direct from Kuala Lumpur to Europe," he said.
At the Paris Air Show, (ASX) said it was holding discussions with several airports in the Middle East, that could serve as technical stopovers so it could operate one-stop flights to Europe with A330s. "We are still not ruling out this alternative," Osman-Rani said. He said he hopes to secure an additional airplane soon, "but the market is tight." He expects to operate with just one airplane "in the worst case scenario" for no longer than one year. (ASX) will take out insurance to compensate passengers in case technical problems ground the plane. Despite its obvious start up challenges, (ASX) is confident about its future. Osman-Rani revealed that it is in talks with Airbus (EDS) regarding a possible A350 XWB order and with Boeing (TBC) for the 787 as "an alternate option." He declined to specify how many A350s/787s it is considering purchasing.
A330-301 (054, 9M-XAA - see photo), ex-Air Madrid (AMD) (EC-JMF), will commence operations this month initially to Australia and later to Kuala Lumpur, the UK, the Middle East, India, and China. Is looking for a second airplane while awaiting 10/5 orders in 2008. Discussions are ongoing with two cities in China and one in India on proposed new services.
December 2007: Thales (THL) will provide avionics and InFlight Entertainment (IFE) systems for AirAsia X (ASX)'s forthcoming fleet of 15 new A330-300s. Systems include the (FMS), (T2CAS) Terrain & Traffic Collision Avoidance System, and Mode S. The contract covers 15 years of after-sales repair and maintenance support through Thales (THL) Repair by-the-hour and Turn Key Maintenance packages.
January 2008: AirAsia (ASW)’s long-haul arm AirAsia X (ASX) has set a February 4th launch date for its second international service, flying to Hangzhou in China from Kuala Lumpur. The carrier will operate Kuala Lumpur - Hangzhou, on which there is currently no scheduled passenger service, five times a week. It marks the carrier’s second international service, after it launched four weekly flights to the Gold Coast in Australia during November. It operates a single A330-301.
(ASX) (CEO), Azran Osman-Rani says: “As one of China’s most prosperous and economically significant cities, it is a strategic addition to the (ASX) network. “Given its popularity among customers from our existing (ASW) and (ASX) destinations, we are confident that there will be solid demand for the Hangzhou route, which serves the Zhejiang province and the neighboring Greater Shanghai metropolitan.”
February 2008: AirAsia X (ASX) will sell 10% stakes to private equity funds in Japan (Orix Group) and Bahrain (Perigon Capital of Manara Consortium) for a combined $75 million, an official told the "Agence France Press" (AFP), in order to raise money for the purchase of 25 A330-300s. The Virgin Group (VAA) acquired a 20% stake in the start-up last summer.
(ASX) confirmed the sale of 10% stakes to Bahrain-based Manara Consortium and Japan's Orix Corp for a combined MYR250 million/$77.2 million cash consideration. Each investor will receive approximately 16.7 million newly issued shares of common stock. Orix also holds a stake in Japanese Low Cost Carrier (LCC) Skymark Airlines (SKM). "Manara will allow (ASX) greater access to the fast-growing Middle East region, whilst Orix will contribute its significant expertise in aviation finance and leasing," (ASX) Chairman, Kalimullah Hassan said.
The prospect of a link-up between AirAsia (ASW) and Australia's Virgin Blue (VOZ) appears to be gathering momentum, with the world's lowest-cost operator flagging the launch of a joint venture (JV) with Virgin Blue (VOZ) to establish an "ultra-low-cost" carrier in Australia. (VOZ) has been searching for ways to counter low-cost entrants Jetstar Airways (IMU) and Tiger Airways (TGR), as it focuses more on the corporate market. Speaking to "News Ltd" in Australia, Toll Holdings, which owns 62% of Virgin Blue (VOZ), said it has received expressions of interest for its majority stake. "In the last three months, the Virgin Blue (VOZ) board has initiated a detailed review to maximize shareholder value," Toll Managing Director, Paul Little told "News." "It is clear that the level of liquidity in the listed stock is not supportive of shareholder value. A number of expressions of interest have been received, designed to unlock value and these are currently being assessed.''
(VOZ)'s shares have slumped from a high of A$2.44/$2.24 in early 2007 to close at A$1.25. The airline reported a +8.8% profit drop in the fiscal semester ended December 31 to +A$113.3 million.
(ASX) (CEO), Azran Osman-Rani told media that while (ASW) is keen on the joint venture (JV), "a lot of that hinges on what happens with Toll Holdings and who is going to take control of (VOZ)." (ASW) will enter into the (JV) only if Toll sells down its 62.7% stake and Virgin (VAA) Group chief, Richard Branson, who holds 16% of (ASX) and 25.5% of (VOZ), regains management control of the carrier he launched in 2000. Both Branson and (ASW) founder, Tony Fernandes will be in Australia next month for talks. Toll has been considering reducing its stake for some time, with various suitors, including Singapore Airlines (SIA) touted.
March 2008: Aero Ventures (AV), a holding company that holds 48% of AirAsia X (ASX), announced that ACE Aviation Holdings Chairman, President & (CEO), Robert Milton has invested in the group. "My involvement with (ASX) has provided me with the exciting opportunity to participate in the newest and most promising airline business model today," Milton said. He holds "a minor interest," (AV) said.
The 1st A330-301 (054, 9M-XAA "Semangat Sir Freddie), was named in honor of the late Sir Freddie Laker. (ASX) currently serves Coolangatta (Gold Coast), Australia, and plans to expand flights to China, India, Japan, and the Middle East, and also to London (Stansted) with 2 A340-300s.
(ASX), as expected, signed for an additional +10 392-seat A330-300s, bringing the airline's commitment to the type to 25. The additional 10 airplanes will be delivered to (ASX) progressively over the next five years.
May 2008: AirAsia X (ASX) announced that Perth will be its next Australian destination. (ASX) started operations last year to Australia's Gold Coast. The Kuala Lumpur-based carrier will launch service to Perth with six weekly flights from November 2, which coincides with the delivery of its first new-build A330-200, before moving to daily services in March. Chief Executive, Azran Osman-Rani said, "(ASX) will feed passengers from its extensive network into Perth, effectively creating a low-cost link from Southeast Asia and China to Western Australia."
August 2008: AirAsia X (ASX) will launch four-times-weekly, Kuala Lumpur - Melbourne (MEL) on November 12 aboard an A330, increasing to daily during the December - January peak season. (MEL) will be (ASX)'s fourth destination after Hangzhou, Perth, and the Gold Coast.
September 2008: SEE ATTACHED "AIRLINER WORLD" ARTICLE - - "ASX-CEO-2008-09-A/B/C."
October 2008: AirAsia X (ASX) hopes to announce its first UK service from its base at Kuala Lumpur International (KUL)'s low-cost-carrier terminal next month and commence the route in March, CEO, Azran Osman Rani said at the "Routes Leaders Forum" in the Malaysian capital.
While declining to confirm Stansted (STN) as the destination, Azran said, "We prefer (STN) over Manchester airport, because of the connectivity" with Low Cost Carriers (LCC)s like Ryanair (RYR) and easyJet (EZY). Next month, AirAsia (ASW)'s low-cost long-haul arm will launch flights from (KUL) to Perth (four-times-weekly) and Melbourne (six-times-weekly). It currently operates to Australia's Gold Cost and Guangzhou.
The current slowdown in demand and the uncertain economic climate are not affecting (ASX)'s expansion plans. "When everyone is retreating, it's time to expand for us," Azran said. The airline currently operates one leased A330-300 and will take delivery of its first new A330-300, part of an order for 25, later this month and a second in December. Three new A330s and one leased A340 will arrive next year, the latter to support the likely (KUL) - (STN) service.
Azran also said the demise of other long-haul, low-cost startups like Oasis Hong Kong Airlines (OHK) and Zoom Airlines (ZOM) is not affecting (ASX)'s confidence in the business model. "They operated old airplanes. They started from scratch and building a brand is expensive, and thirdly, operating long-haul point-to-point is difficult. You need feed. You need a network," he said.
(ASX) operates with its own Air Operator Certificate (AOC) and (IATA) (ITA) code, while selling tickets under the (ASW) brand through the latter's website. The airplanes carry the red (ASW) livery. "The need to connect reflects the traditional legacy model for long-haul," Azran said. "But I don't interline, which strips out a lot of operational complexity and costs. Because of the Internet and the passenger's independence, my passengers self-connect. They self-transit in (KUL)." Eighty-one percent of (ASX)'s current passengers do not stay in Kuala Lumpur, he said. Both (ASW) and (ASX) operate out of (KUL)'s low-cost terminal.
November 2008: AirAsia X (ASX) launched four-times-weekly, Kuala Lumpur - Melbourne Avalon aboard an A330-300. The service will be operated daily, December 18 to January 16, and from March.
(ASX) launched ticket sales for a five-times-weekly, Kuala Lumpur - London Stansted service, scheduled to begin in March. The route will be operated with a 286-seat A340 featuring 30 premium seats. SEE ATTACHED - - "ASX-NEWS-2008-11."
(ASX) took delivery of the first of 25 new A330-300s in Toulouse. The airplane is powered by (Trent 700)s and will seat 28 premium and 355 economy passengers.
December 2008: A330-343E (974, 9M-XXB), delivery, ex-(F-WWKD).
January 2009: Domestic airfares in Australia have plummeted -30% in a year to the lowest point in 17 years, according to data released by the government's Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics (BITRE). While the lowest fares fell dramatically, domestic business class (C) fares eased just -1% but are expected to decline more significantly in the coming months as the economy continues to slow and business confidence sinks to its lowest level since surveys were launched in 1998. An Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI) investor confidence survey found that expectations for early 2009 were even worse than 2008. (ACCI) said business conditions and sales were at their lowest levels since 1998 when the survey began and profitability was at its lowest level in seven years. The (BITRE) Domestic Air Fare Index is not expressed in actual fares but as an index. The January 2008 index of 56.1 is almost half that of January 1993.
Fares also are expected to nosedive on international routes from February, with some Australia-based airline executives describing forward bookings as "extremely weak." On the Pacific, V Australia (VAZ) is due to launch 777-300ER service on February 27 with fares starting at A$1,199/$827.65 return. Delta Air Lines (DAL) will launch Atlanta - Los Angeles - Sydney flights on July 1. On shorter-range routes, both Tiger Airways (TGR)/(TAU) and AirAsia X (ASX) are offering significant discounts, with a A$206 one-way Melbourne - Singapore fare and a A$199 one-way ticket to Kuala Lumpur from Melbourne and Perth.
February 2009: A340-313X (273, 9M-XAB), Air Canada (ACN) leased, ex-(C-GDVW).
March 2009: AirAsia X (ASX) commenced its five-times-weekly, Kuala Lumpur - London Stansted (STN) service aboard a 286-seat, A340-300. (ASX) appointed (IAM), Network Cargo Services, FlyUs, Global Cargo Management and ACT as cargo sales agents in Western Europe. Aviance handles at (STN).
April 2009: AirAsia X (ASX) will increase five-times-weekly, Kuala Lumpur - London Stansted service to daily on July 1.
June 2009: Air France Industries (AFI)/ KLM Engineering & Maintenance and AirAsia X (ASX) signed a contract covering component support for its fleet of A330-300s. (ASX) ordered 25 of the type and has taken delivery of two. The remainder will enter service between now and 2013. (AFI)/(KLM) E&M said it will examine the possibility of developing local capabilities at its Singapore logistics center "to further enhance its support to (ASX) and help sustain (AFI)/(KLM) E&M operational activities on similar strategic contracts throughout the region, notably with the carriers IndiGo (IGO) and Kingfisher (KFH) [Airlines]."
The intent to develop its Singapore logistics center is part of (AFI)/(KLM) (E&M)'s strategy of "customized services, expertise and proximity" that includes creation of new joint ventures. It announced participation in two new (JV)s at the Paris Air Show and confirmed that it increased its stake in Miami-based Aero Maintenance Group to 81.4%.
(ASX) now operates 3 A330s and one A340, generating $37 million in revenue, a 14% operating profit margin and positive cash flow during the first quarter. Load factors were 69% LF and 80% of passengers connect to or from a short haul AirAsia (ASW) flight at Kuala Lumpur. Looking at Australian passengers originating from the Gold Coast, 21% connect to Bangkok, another 19% are just going to Kuala Lumpur and staying there, 16% connect on to Phuket, and 11% travel on to Bali. Other popular destinations for Gold Coast passengers include Vientiane in Laos, Penang in Malaysia and Manila in the Philippines. (ASX) by serving areas outside of the (ASEAN) region with varying traffic peaks and troughs, helps reduce seasonal swings in earnings.
Airbus (EDS)'s Paris Air Show was highlighted by (ASX)'s firm order for 10 A350-900s valued at more than $2 billion plus five options. (ASX) said it will use the airplanes for low-fare long-haul flights with a particular focus on routes connecting Kuala Lumpur to Europe, South America and Australia. (ASW) (CEO), Tony Fernandes said, "There is business out there if you go out and find it . . . I know it's bleak out there but there is light." He contended that the A350 will "make low-cost travel available to anyone." He noted that negotiations with (EDS) had gone on late into the preceding night and said, "the deal was finally done on the train this morning" as he made his way to Paris. (ASX) will configure the airplane to seat more than >400 passengers in a two-class layout.
A340-313X (278, 9M-XAC), Air Canada (ACN) leased - - SEE PHOTOS - - "ASX-A340-313X-2009-07-A/B/C."
July 2009: AirAsia X (ASX) will increase Kuala Lumpur - Taipei service to daily from five-times-weekly on October 19.
August 2009: AirAsia (ASW) announced its long-haul, low-cost affiliate AirAsia X (ASX) will launch its first service to the Middle East. Five-times-weekly, Kuala Lumpur - Abu Dhabi flights will start November 23 with an A330 "in time for the peak Hajj and Eid-dul Adha travel season," (ASW)/(ASX) said.
(ASX) will launch four-times-weekly, Kuala Lumpur - Chengdu service October 20 aboard an A330-300.
September 2009: SEE ATTACHED "AIRLINE BUSINESS" MAGAZINE ARTICLE ON NEW ROUTES - - SEE "ASX-NEWS-2009-09."
A330-343E (1048, 9M-XXC), delivery.
October 2009: AirAsia X (ASX) plans to launch services four-times weekly services to Mumbai and seven-times weekly services to New Delhi in the first half of next year. (ASX) said it has been granted landing rights in Paris by the French government and is awaiting further details from authorities. "The French government's approval places Air Asia (ASW) in a significant position, in line with the plans by (ASX) to expand our operations in Europe," (ASX) CEO, Azran Osman-Rani said. "(ASX) had initially considered launching a route from Kuala Lumpur to Nice, France, next year but with this latest news, the airline will recalibrate its strategy as we now have an opportunity to fly to Paris." Currently, its sole service in Europe is seven weekly flights to London Stansted.
(ASX) operated its first flights to Chengdu, the central Chinese city popular with tourists. The inaugural A330-300 flight carried 378 passengers, including (ASX)’s (CEO). Chengdu, miraculously spared from the huge Sichuan earthquake that devastated nearby regions last year, is an enormously promising market for airlines, given its tourist appeal, a substantial base of businesses and a 10 million-strong population base.
November 2009: A330-343E (1066, 9M-XXD), delivery.
December 2009: AirAsia (ASW) (CEO), Tony Fernandes hopes his AirAsia X (ASX) subsidiary will serve either New York (JFK) or Newark (EWR) next year, he told the "Bernama" news agency. Malaysia Airlines (MAS) pulled out of (EWR) and now flies only to Los Angeles in the USA. "We are very keen to enter the USA market, which has good business potential," Fernandes said.
A330-343E (1075, 9M-XXE), delivery.
February 2010: AirAsia X (ASX) said it will suspend its five-times-weekly A340 service between Kuala Lumpur and Abu Dhabi at the end of February, citing "commercial reasons." (ASX) launched the route in November.
Lufthansa Technik (DLH) (LTK) Philippines (LTP) signed a contract with AirAsia X (ASX) to provide Maintenance Repair & Overhaul (MRO) services on the carrier's fleet of eight A330s/A340s for three years beginning in March. The work will take place at (LTP)'s Manila facility. (LTP) will provide four "C"-checks and a heavy maintenance check in the first year and also has committed to performing cabin retrofit services.
The contract is another signifier of (LTP) parent, Lufthansa Technik (LTK)'s commitment to Asia, (LTK) Chairman, August Wilhelm Henningsen said. Asia represents "our highest commitment [to a region] in terms of investments and we are going to expand if needed," he said. (LTP), he noted, now has 3,000 employees in Manila. He described Asia as the "driving motor" of the nascent recovery in global air traffic.
He said the recession did not have as severe an impact on (MRO) providers as airlines. The (MRO) "is not so heavily affected up to now" by the financial downturn, he explained, noting that the "we have not seen the reduction in flight frequencies that we've seen in past crises," particularly in 2001 and 1991. He did concede that (MRO) work on freighter airplanes has taken a serious hit owing to "a lot of cargo airplanes that have been grounded."
June 2010: AirAsia X (ASX) will be spun off into a standalone, publicly traded company with an Initial Public Offering (IPO) targeted for the second half of 2011, subject to market conditions, the AirAsia Group said. The long-haul arm was launched in November 2007 "and is now reaching sufficient scale economies to stand on its own instead of relying on services provided by AirAsia (ASW)," the company stated. AirAsia (ASW) also will seek separate listings for its Thailand- and Indonesia-based affiliates.
"After more than two years of operation, we have begun to notice some dilution of the (ASW) business model and recognize the need for AirAsia (ASW) and AirAsia X (ASX) to remain focused on their respective markets. Nevertheless, we are extremely pleased with how quickly (ASX) has grown in the two-and-a-half years since its birth," Group Chairman & (CEO), Tony Fernandes said. (ASX) booked a net profit of +MYR87 million/+$26.1 million on revenue of MYR720 million last year and is forecast to generate more than >MYR1 billion in revenue in 2010, according to the company.
Under the reorganization, AirAsia X (ASX) "will take over employment" of its own flight crew (FC) and ground staff, "as well as its commercial and marketing team." It is completing a MYR100 million rights issue "to achieve financial independence and fund its continued growth," AirAsia (ASW) said. It will continue to use the (ASW) brand and airasia.com website as part of its 30-year brand license agreement.
August 2010: AirAsia X (ASX) has started daily, A330-300 flights from
Delhi to Kuala Lumpur. This is the AirAsia (ASW) Group’s ninth destination added in India in the past 10 months. New Delhi becomes (ASX)’s tenth destination worldwide, and the second in India after
Mumbai. With three A330-300s to be delivered this year, it will be starting operations to Melbourne, Australia; Tehran, Iran; Seoul, Korea, and “another destination” later this year, Azran Osman-Rani, (CEO) of (ASX) said.
Thai AirAsia (THA) starts flights to Delhi and Kolkata from Bangkok
in October. “We will now consolidate and develop these routes . . . and try to get frequencies higher,” says Azran. (ASX) says it is not looking at any alliances with budget carriers in India in the “conventional sense,” but is in preliminary talks with a few budget carriers to co-market and code share. “Take for instance Kuala Lumpur - Mumbai. We could code share on the Mumbai - Goa route,” says Azran. Earlier this year AirAsia (ASW) announced an alliance with Australia’s Jetstar (IMU). The group now has 120 flights weekly to various points in India from Kuala Lumpur and Penang.
September 2010: AirAsia X (ASX) has started negotiating use of passenger boarding bridges at Kuala Lumpur International Airport’s new budget terminal “subject to receiving a commercial proposal from Malaysia Airports that we can accept,” says CEO, Azran Osman-Rani.
The new low-cost carrier terminal, the opening of which has been delayed from the end of 2011 to mid-2012, is expected to be the largest in the world. Known as "KLIA 2," the terminal initially will handle 30 million passengers a year. Capacity is expected to increase to 45 million in phases.
The current low-cost terminal hosts AirAsia (ASW), Thai AirAsia (THA),
AirAsia X (ASX), Cebu Pacific Airways (CEB), and Tiger Airways (TGR).
AirAsia (ASW) previously has said its growth has been pushed back because it requires a larger terminal with passenger traffic forecast to reach 30 million by 2013.
Meanwhile, principal AirAsia (ASW) may convert debt owed by its associates into equity when they seek listing, Group (CEO), Tony Fernandes was quoted as saying.
AirAsia X (ASX) has firmed up plans to launch services to Tokyo, but it will fly to Tokyo Haneda, rather than Tokyo Ibaraki. (ASX) says it will launch a three-times-weekly nonstop service from Kuala Lumpur to Haneda, starting December 9, using a new A330 in a two-class configuration. “Tokyo represents an important feeder market into our
growing international network,” says (ASX) (CEO), Azran Osman-Rani. He adds that people flying into Kuala Lumpur from Tokyo will be able to connect to AirAsia (ASW) flights throughout Southeast Asia or connect to AirAsia X (ASX) flights to destinations in, for example, Australia. (ASX) originally was looking to operate to Tokyo Ibaraki, a new airport built on the northern outskirts of Tokyo that aims to attract low-cost carriers (LCC)s.
The fact that (ASX) will serve Tokyo Haneda demonstrates that the downtown city airport is set to become a major international airport, rather than an expanded domestic airport. Haneda Airport has traditionally been a domestic airport, but the opening of a fourth runway in late October, means it will have additional slots available for international services.
2 A330-343Es (1131, 9M-XXG; 1165, 9M-XXH), deliveries.
October 2010: AirAsia X (ASX)’s initial sales from global distribution systems (GDS) are not yet paying off, with (GDS) bookings accounting for 3% to 4% of its sales and failing to generate a “material difference” in yield compared to online purchases, says (CEO), Azran Osman-Rani. The latter point is critical because low-cost carriers (LCC)s will pay for the (GDS) distribution model only if the yields are sufficient to offset the cost of using the channel. However, Azran said that he is willing to give the experiment another year or so to see if the (GDS)s produce better results. (ASX) only recently separated from AirAsia (ASW) and now has its own commercial team, meaning it can work closely with travel agents and (GDS)s on how best to market its product instead of paying AirAsia (ASW) a fee for its (GDS) connection. “If something good comes out of it, great; I’m not dogmatic about it,” Azran says. “But I think as is, something is not right. Something needs to change. I don’t know what it is.” What he does not want to give agents is what some of them continue to clamor for—(GDS) access to (ASX)’s promotional Internet prices, which he says shows they are focused on selling solely based on price. That’s a marketing challenge because the airline attracts business travelers who are more price-sensitive than customers for other airlines, and right now even customers at million-dollar businesses are telling their secretaries to book online instead if the online price is cheaper than what the agent can offer, Azran says.
Azran reports better results with (ASX)’s lie-flat seats. (ASX) has 12 such seats on every airplane and is filling them at about the same rate as economy (Y) class, with about a 75% LF load factor, he says. Customers who pay for the seats also get flexibility on ticket changes and food, pillows, blankets and priority baggage included in the fare. The seats are selling particularly well on (ASX)’s UK, Australia, and Taipei routes, Azran says, but less well on new routes in China and India, where passengers are less familiar with the differentiation in low-fare products. That is demonstrated by the selling patterns in those locations, he says. When load factors in economy (Y) seats reach about 80% LF on a given flight, the fare difference between them and lie-flat seats shrinks to about $20, which should convince travelers to upgrade to lie-flat seats. But customers there are still buying economy (Y).
Sydney Airport (SYD) is backing AirAsia X (ASX) in its vocal campaign to be allowed to fly to Sydney. (ASX) has painted the side of one of its A330s with the slogan "Liberate Sydney-End the Monopoly" to promote the issue but has yet to receive approval from the Malaysian government.
(SYD) (CEO), Russell Balding said that "flights by (ASX) would benefit passengers in both Malaysia and Australia and build tourism and cultural and commercial links in the two countries."
He continued, "Fundamentally, airlines should be able to fly where passengers want them to go. This is an important principle that Sydney Airport supports. Consumer preference should guide the development of the international aviation market and airlines should be able to operate services in line with passenger demand."
In the past year, (ASX) has lifted passenger numbers by over +60% on its Perth - Kuala Lumpur route.
November 2010: AirAsia X (ASX) will launch four-times-weekly, Kuala Lumpur - Paris Orly service on February 14 using a 327-seat A340.
Last June, AirAsia (ASW) (CEO), Tony Fernandes admitted signs of “some dilution of the AirAsia (ASW) business model,” explaining why AirAsia X (ASX) would be given more autonomy to run as a separate publicly traded business. Nevertheless, (ASX) did earn a +$28 million net profit last year and continues its aggressive expansion, the latest manifestation of which is newly launched flights to Seoul. (ASX), which is celebrating its third birthday this month, will begin flying to Tokyo Haneda next month and Christchurch in New Zealand in April 2011.
December 2010: AirAsia X (ASX) launched thrice-weekly, Kuala Lumpur - Tokyo Haneda service with an A330. This month (ASX) announced two new routes for 2011 - - Christchurch and Paris - - but (ASX) is not showing any signs of slowing down.
Tony Fernandes, one of (ASX)'s investors, says that he hopes (ASX) can fly to New York next year via a stop-over in Europe with fifth-freedom rights. In 2012, he hopes to see (ASX) expand into Budapest, Moscow, and Prague. That's all very well, but (ASX) will be constrained with the range of its A330-300s. ((ASX) has two A340s but hasn't shown an interest in acquiring more. Likewise it's A350s on order will not arrive for a number of years.)
For that, there are two solutions: Fernandes is pushing Airbus (EDS) to extend the A330-300's range and is also discussing purchasing longer-range A330-200 airplanes.
February 2011: AirAsia X (ASX) starts Kuala Lumpur - Paris Orly.
March 2011: Lufthansa Technik (DLH) (LTK) Philippines extended its maintenance contract with AirAsia X (ASX) covering light "C" maintenance checks this year on (ASX)'s fleet.
AirAsia X (ASX) has ordered three A330-200s with an option for two more, bringing (ASX)’s total orders for the A330 to 28. The airplanes are scheduled for delivery from 2014. Airbus (EDS) said the airplanes are the 238-tonne increased take-off weight version of the A330-200, which are capable of flying nonstop from Kuala Lumpur to Europe. (ASX) will configure the airplane in a two-class layout with 24 premium flatbeds and 264Y economy seats.
The AirAsia (ASW) Group has ordered more than >200 airplanes from Airbus (EDS), including 175 A320s, 28 A330s and 10 A350 XWBs.
May 2011: The AirAsia Group reported a +19% year-over-year increase in first-quarter passengers carried to 7.2 million. Load factor jumped +6 points to 81% LF. Capacity (ASK)s increased +12.5% to 10.58 billion, while traffic (RPK)s increased +25.9% to 8.52 billion.
The core Malaysian operation experienced a +17.2% increase in passenger boardings to 4.3 million, while Thai AirAsia (THA) enjoyed a +22.7% hike to 1.81 million. Indonesia AirAsia (AWR) posted a +22.4% increase in passenger boardings to 1.09 million.
AirAsia X (ASX) recorded a +56.5% increase in passengers to 640,000 for the first quarter. (ASX) added six new routes: — Mumbai, Delhi, Tehran, Seoul, Tokyo, and Paris — and increased its fleet from eight to 11 airplanes. (ASX)'s first-quarter (RPK)s rose +59.8% to 3.6 billion, making (ASX) the second-largest Low Cost Carrier (LCC) in Southeast Asia, after AirAsia Malaysia (ASW). (ASK)s increased +48% to 4.5 billion and load factor lifted +6 points to 81% LF.
AirAsia X (ASX) (CEO), Azran Osman-Rani commented, “Our continued rapid growth trajectory is testament to the breakthrough long-haul model that we have pioneered, which unlocks significant latent demand that exists between Southeast Asia and the major markets in North Asia, Australia, India, the Middle East, and Europe, which is under-served by traditional low-cost carriers (LCC)s. The longer range of our airplanes is perfectly suited for the geographically dispersed Asia/Pacific landscape.”
(ASX) selected (GE)’s (CF6-80E1) engines to power three firm and two option Airbus A330-200s ordered in March. (ASX) also signed a 20-year "On-Point solutions" agreement with (GE) for the maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) of the (CF6-80E1) engines. The agreements are valued at more than >$600 million, (ASX) said.
July 2011: AirAsia X (ASX) will move its Kuala Lumpur - London Stansted (STN) route to London Gatwick on October 24. It has flown from (STN) since 2009.
August 2011: Malaysia Airlines (MAS) and arch rival AirAsia (ASW) are reported to be planning a share swap that would give (ASW)'s parent a 20% stake in (MAS), according to "Reuters." The news wire reported that Malaysia's state investment arm, Khazanah Nasional, which owns nearly 70% of (MAS), would take a 10% stake in AirAsia (ASW). Analysts suggest the deal would enable (MAS) to focus exclusively on premium long-haul services and leave domestic routes and short-haul routes to AirAsia (ASW).
According to the report, (ASW) founder and (CEO), Tony Fernandes and his deputy, Kamarudin Meranun will sit on the (MAS) board following completion of the transaction.
The development has fascinating ramifications for Qantas (QAN) and low-cost subsidiary Jetstar (IMU). In June, (QAN) announced it was sponsoring (MAS)'s entry into the Oneworld (ONW) Alliance and indicated the partnership would be a springboard for growth. In 2010, (IMU) and (ASW) entered into an alliance to reduce costs and pool expertise. At the time, the Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation Chairman, Peter Harbison said the agreement could be the start of something bigger, with code sharing and equity exchanges at a later stage. "This is all about let's live together before we get married," he said.
Later, (ASW), (ASX) and (MAS) announced they have entered into what is termed a Comprehensive Collaboration Framework (CCF), which includes a major share swap and a collaboration agreement to explore opportunities to cooperate on a broad range of areas.
The deal is the first major consolidation in the Southeast Asia region and creates a powerhouse that could set a model for further mergers and joint ventures. As part of the (CCF), six (MAS) Directors have resigned and have been replaced with six new Directors, including (ASW) (CEO) & Founder, Tony Fernandes. Two (MAS) executives will join the (ASW) board.
According to (ASW), under the (CCF) “all parties will work to complement each other’s businesses so as to leverage on their respective core competencies and optimize efficiency for the benefit of consumers.”
As part of the (CCF), (MAS) and (ASW) are issuing free warrants to each other’s shareholders. An (MAS) shareholder will be granted approximately one warrant in (ASW) for every (30) (MAS) shares held, while an (ASW) shareholder will be granted approximately one (MAS) warrant for every 10 (ASW) shares held.
In addition, Tune Air and Khazanah Nasional Berhad, the major shareholders of (ASW) and (MAS), respectively, have agreed to acquire from each other existing shares of both companies.
As a result, Tune will hold 20.5% of shares in (MAS), and Khazanah will hold 10% in (ASW). In addition, Khazanah proposes to acquire 10% of shares in (ASX) on terms and at a price to be mutually agreed upon later.
According to (ASW), the agreement enables (MAS), (ASW) and (ASX) “to respectively focus on business segments in which they are capable of developing the most value.” The airlines will now assess and review their network services to enhance their offering, which will include partial interlining and flights to new destinations currently not served by any of the airlines.
The first phase of the collaboration will focus on “immediate synergy opportunities, which can be realized without significant effect on any party’s operations.” The (CCF) will become effective immediately upon its execution and shall remain in force for five years, with an option for five more years.
(ASW) (CEO) and (ASX) Director, Tony Fernandes said “By focusing on core competencies, it will enable both parties to increase product offerings to our respective customers. (ASW) and (ASX) see growth opportunities in new routes and destinations. Our business model requires us to continue to reduce prices in order to increase volumes for consumers in the low-cost travel segment, which we can now focus on in a more significant way.”
(MAS) Chairman Nor Yusof added, “The signing of the collaboration agreement heralds an exciting new era of cooperation whereby the airlines involved will stand to gain significantly by tapping the benefits of working together. We believe that the joint collaboration will help (MAS) focus on our strengths in our core markets and work towards deriving higher loads and more efficient resource utilization. We will also be able to offer services in Engineering and other areas to both (ASW) and (ASX).”
AirAsia X (ASX) will launch four-times-weekly, Osaka Kansai - Kuala Lumpur on November 30.
October 2011: AirAsia X (ASX) told "Bloomberg News" it might buy more than >60 new longhaul planes to support ambitions that include a possible hub in Japan, connecting the country to leisure destinations like Honolulu and Guam. A Japanese hub would also enable it to share traffic with AirAsia Japan (AAJ), the new Low Cost Carrier (LCC) venture with All Nippon (ANA). Busan in Korea is another market (ASX) has on its radar, according to the Korean news source "Joins."
(ASX) completed its switch from London Stansted to London Gatwick airport (LGW) on October 24. The long-haul, low-cost carrier (LCC) will launch 3x-weekly, (LGW) - Kuala Lumpur A340-300 service in November, increasing to 5x and 6x-weekly from December - March.
November 2011: AirAsia X (ASX) is a low cost carrier (LCC) flying long-haul "no-frills" operations under a franchise agreement with AirAsia (ASW). An expanding route network links Kuala Lumpur with cities in Australia, China, France, India, Iran, Japan, Korea, Taiwan, the UK, and the United Arab Republic (UAR). Daily point-to-point services to more than >45 long-haul destinations throughout Asia, Australasia, China, Europe, and India are planned. Long-haul charter services are also offered.
(IATA) Code: D7. (ICAO) Code: XAX - (Callsign - XANADU).
Parent organization/shareholders: Aero Ventures (48%); AirAsia (16%); the Virgin Group (16%); Manara Consortium (10%); and Orix (10%).
Main Base: Kuala Lumpur International airport (KUL).
December 2011: Being very aware of the significance of the competition from Singapore Airline (SIA)'s just launched, low cost longhaul carrier "Scoot" (SCT) which intends to open with 777s flying Singapore - Sydney, AirAsia X (ASX) has initiated its first flight to Osaka, the birthplace of Kabuki theater. The real theatrics however, are happening in the air with Japan undergoing a low-fare revolution. (ASX) already serves Tokyo Haneda.
January 2012: AirAsia X (ASX) will suspend services to the UK and France from March 31, citing the European Union Emissions Trading Scheme (EU ETS) and escalating air passenger duty taxes.
(ASX) serves London Gatwick six times a week and Paris Orly four times a week. (ASX) will also suspend its four weekly services to Mumbai and daily New Delhi service. The changes are part of a restructure to move operations from loss-making routes to focus on more profitable regional routes.
(ASX) (CEO), Azran Osman-Rani said (ASX) remains focused on maintaining its global leadership position in the low-cost, long-haul segment.
“The implementation of the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) and the escalating air passenger duty taxes in the UK, which will rise yet again in April 2012, have forced our decision to withdraw our services to Europe,” Azran said.
“We intend to concentrate capacity in our core markets of Australasia, China, Taiwan, Japan, and Korea, where we have built up stable, profitable routes within an infrastructure that supports low-cost services. We intend to open up new routes within these markets, as well as add frequencies on existing routes. Announcements of our future expansion plans will be made soon.”
One of those new routes will be Kuala Lumpur to Sydney Australia from April 1. Sydney is AirAsia X (ASX)’s fourth Australian destination after the Gold Coast, Melbourne, and Perth.
(ASX)’s attempts over the past four years to operate the route have been thwarted by Malaysia Airlines (MAS)’s objections, but have been swept aside after the two airlines’ landmark share swap deal last year.
(ASX) will operate an A330-300 on the route with a configuration of 12 premium flatbed seats and 365Y economy seats.
According to Azran, the continued high jet fuel prices and the weakening demand for air travel from Europe (brought about by the current economic situation and “exorbitant” government taxes) have “placed cost pressures on operating long-haul, low-cost flights between Asia and Europe, compromising our ability to offer the low fares AirAsia X (ASX) is known for.”
Regarding India, Azran said that “continued visa restrictions for travel between India and Malaysia, and the increase in airport and handling charges, have resulted in a structure not conducive to the low-cost model. (ASX) is hopeful in reinstating services to India, once these structural issues can be resolved.”
March 2012: AirAsia X (ASX) is continuing to act on its concentration plan to build scale in key markets rather than spread itself out. (ASX) is withdrawing services to Christchurch and increasing capacity to Perth and Taipei. The withdrawal from Christchurch is despite high load factors, indicating (as with the carrier's withdrawals from London and Paris) the problem is of yield on ultra-long-haul sectors where a Low Cost Carrier (LCC)'s lower cost base has less advantage as fuel comprises a greater share of costs than on shorter sectors.
The withdrawal of four-weekly services to Christchurch, effective at the end of May 2012, will remove (ASX)'s longest flight, leaving all other services (primarily to Australia and North Asia) in a five-to-eight hour range. Previously (ASX)'s longest flights were to Paris and London, although operated with A340s instead of A330s to Christchurch.
In Christchurch's place, (ASX) will increase Perth capacity from seven to nine weekly flights and Taipei from seven to 11 weekly flights. Taipei has previously seen capacity fluctuations, and in particular increases around Chinese New Year.
Increasing service to existing destinations is an intentional strategy as (ASX) looks to build scale in existing markets. "Concentration is going to be a key theme" (CEO), Azran Osman-Rani said of (ASX)'s medium-term strategy last month. "We may not even venture into a new country."
Mr Osman-Rani said (ASW) was still evaluating additional destinations in existing markets, part of its original plan. Potential destinations are Adelaide in Australia; Fukuoka, Nagoya and Sapporo in Japan; Busan in South Korea; and cities with a population of over >5 million in China.
New Zealand was not considered part of (ASX)'s initial route strategy for the A330s, with (ASX) preferring instead to reach New Zealand as part of a second wave of expansion to coincide with the delivery of longer-range A350s. Incentives from Christchurch (some of which will now need to be returned) as well as seeing Jetstar (IMU) enter the Southeast Asia - New Zealand market facilitated (ASX)'s entrance. (ASX) could return once A350s are delivered later this decade or if demand and fuel environments change.
(ASX) will end its Christchurch route just a year after launching it in April 2011, a date it stuck to and without capacity changes despite a devastating February 2011 earthquake in Christchurch that dampened demand. While Air New Zealand (ANZ) saw a domestic rebound within six months, international demand is still soft. (ASX) has had strong load factors to Christchurch, averaging just under 80% LF, indicating weakened yields.
The withdrawal of long-haul/ultra-long-haul routes like Christchurch, London and Paris does not, as critics say, indicate a flaw in the low-cost, long-haul model. But it does show the model has limited applications in high fuel price and low demand environments.
Scoot's initial focus will be Australia and North Asia, within a six-to-eight hour range of Singapore, while Cebu Pacific (CEB), which plans to launch a low-cost long-haul operation in mid 2013, will initially focus on Australia and the Middle East. Jetstar (IMU) also has generally steered clear of ultra-long-haul flights, partially out of interest in higher-margin flying around Asia. (IMU)'s longest flights are now Auckland - Singapore and Sydney - Honolulu, which at certain times of the year is one of its most profitable routes, but these are not as long as services to Europe or the mainland USA.
Competition out of Christchurch is limited, with the only intercontinental links being service to Singapore by Singapore Airlines (SIA) (daily) and to Tokyo from Air New Zealand (ANZ) (twice weekly). Emirates (EAD) also serves Christchurch daily but routes this flight to Sydney before proceeding onto Dubai. The Christchurch market is focused almost entirely on leisure traffic. An even higher demand leisure point in New Zealand's South Island is Queenstown, but the airport in Queenstown is not capable of handling wide bodies.
SEE ATTACHED - - "ASX-2012-03 - NETWORK CHANGES."
April 2012: Malaysia Airlines (MAS) and AirAsia X (ASX) have signed a re-accommodation agreement following the cancellation of four (ASX) routes to Mumbai, New Delhi, London, and Paris.
(ASX) will use excess capacity on (MAS) flights as it begins to tackle its extensive financial problems. “The related revenue from this arrangement is pure incremental revenue for the airline and would significantly contribute to the profitability of Malaysia Airlines,” (MAS) said, adding that it has already received MYR 20 million/$6.53 million as prepayment.
May 2012: AirAsia X (ASX) has received government approval to move its five times weekly, A330-300 service between Kuala Lumpur International (KUL) and Tianjin Binhai International (TSN) to Beijing Capital (PEK) from June 22. It had originally launched flights to Tianjin as an alternative to Beijing as it could not secure traffic rights and slots at the congested main airport serving the Chinese capital. Airbus Industrie (EDS) has confirmed that (ASX) has converted one of its A330-200 orders to an order for an additional A330-300.
June 2012: The UK-based Virgin Group, parent company of Virgin Atlantic Airways (VAA), has sold its 10% stake in Malaysia’s AirAsia X (ASX), the long-haul, low-cost carrier (LCC).
The move comes as the Virgin Group realigns its investments to concentrate more closely on its own brand. “We can confirm that Virgin Group has sold its 10% stake in AirAsia X (ASX),” External Relations Director, Nick Fox said. “The terms of the deal remain confidential. We sold to existing shareholders.”
The company added: “The Virgin Group has a large number of new and exciting investment opportunities in development. We now prioritize resources where we can have the most impact and also use the Virgin brand.
“While AirAsia X (ASX) has been a very successful investment for us, it does not use the Virgin brand and we feel it is the right time to exit to focus on our branded portfolio. We are proud to have worked with [AirAsia (ASW) (CEO)] Tony [Fernandes] to develop the initial business case for AirAsia X (ASX) and wish them well for the future.”
(ASX) did not immediately comment on (VAA)’s sale of its shareholding. According to Malaysian financial newspaper "The Edge," the shareholding has been sold to AirAsia (ASW) and Malaysian company Aero Ventures for around $21 million. Aero Ventures is a holding company established by Fernandes and others to invest in aviation-related projects.
(ASX) is an associate long-haul carrier of regional (LCC) Air Asia (ASW). (VAA) originally took a 20% stake in the company in 2007.
August 2012: AirAsia X (ASX), said it carried 0.58 million passengers, up +29%, in the second quarter.
Second-quarter capacity (ASK)s were 3.8 billion and traffic (RPK)s were 3.1 billion. Load factor was 82% LF, an increase of 4% points year-over-year.
In the first half, (ASX) carried 1.1 million passengers, up +16.6% over the same period last year. This excludes discontinued routes to London, Paris, Mumbai, Delhi, and Christchurch.
In the first-half, (ASX) reported 8.3 billion (ASK)s and 7 billion (RPK)s. Load factor was 84% LF, an increase of +5% points year-over-year.
Cargo operations continue to be strong. In the second quarter, (ASX) carried 7,374 tonnes of freight and 14,781 tonnes for the first half, up +9% from the year-ago period for continuing routes.
AirAsia X (ASX) has signed a letter of intent (LOI) with International Lease Finance Corporation (ILFC) to lease six A330-300s over 10 years.
The A330-300s will be configured with 12 flatbeds and 365Y economy seats (the same as those (ASX) purchased directly from Airbus) and have Rolls-Royce (RRC) (Trent 700) engines. They are scheduled for delivery between 2013 and 2014.
“These six airplanes, together with existing delivery orders from Airbus (EDS), will see AirAsia X (ASX)’s growth develop, with a total of seven deliveries each in 2013 and 2014, with the aim of being the dominant market leader in the low-cost long-haul segment,” (ASX) (CEO), Azran Osman-Rani said.
“We intend to deploy the additional capacity with a vision to solidify our positions in our identified core markets, including Australia, China, Taiwan, Korea, and Japan” he added.
October 2012: AirAsia X (ASX) said Monday it would suspend operations to Iran, citing currency “volatility” as (ASX) mounts new profitable destinations across the Asia-Pacific.
(ASX) said the current four times weekly flights between Kuala Lumpur and Tehran will be suspended with the last flight on October 14th. (ASX) said “the suspension of its services to Tehran Imam Khomeini Airport” was due to challenging economic and business conditions including the “volatility of the Iranian currency”. (ASX) did not say when services would be resumed.
Iran, which has been ruled by an Islamic theocracy since the 1979 revolution, is locked in a diplomatic stand-off with the West over its nuclear activities, which Tehran insists are entirely peaceful.
Western sanctions has resulted in the plunge of Iran’s currency.
In a bid to rationalize its operations, (ASX) this year axed its four-weekly flights to Christchurch, New Zealand. It has also ceased service to London, Paris and Delhi and Mumbai.
Oil-rich Iran has good ties with Malaysia. Tehran and Kuala Lumpur have been trying to grow trade relations. (ASX) launched flights to Iran in 2010 since Malaysia was a popular tourists destination for Iranians.
AirAsia X (ASX) operates nine A330-300s to 12 destinations in six countries: Japan, Korea, Australia, China, Nepal, and Taiwan.
It increased daily, (KUL) - Tiruchirappalli service to 11X-weekly on October 15.
Former record industry executive, Tony Fernandes plucked ailing AirAsia (ASW) from its deathbed in 2001 and quickly turned it into one of the aviation sector’s biggest successes. Fernandes established a successful template for (ASW) that included flying into secondary airports in major cities, with their lower landing costs.
He launched AirAsia X (ASX) in 2007, to concentrate on long-haul routes of over four hours, while AirAsia (ASW) and its regional subsidiaries handle shorter flights.
(ASX), which carried 2.5 million passengers last year, has targeted seven million passengers by 2014 on the back of the additional capacity. It hopes to be listed soon.
November 2012: Air Asia X (ASX) plans to add service to Busan, Korea in 2013.
In advance of its Initial Public Offering (IPO), (ASX) expects to impress potential investors with a new route connecting its Kuala Lumpur main base to Shanghai. Next February, (ASX) will fly 377 passenger A330-300s to Shanghai's Pudong Airport, its 14th destination in China (including AirAsia (ASW)'s short haul routes). Included are routes to Beijing, Chengdu, Chongqing, Guangzhou, Guilin, Hangzhou, Kunming, Nanning, Shenzhen, Wuhan, and Xian. As stated by (ASW), one of the key advantages that (ASX) enjoys (and one that other longhaul (LCC)s do not) is a large short- and medium-haul feed traffic into and out of Kuala Lumpur.
December 2012: AirAsia X (ASX) launched its second route to Japan after Tokyo Haneda on 30 November when the long-haul low-cost carrier (LCC) connected its Kuala Lumpur (KUL) base with Osaka Kansai (KIX). 377-seat A330-300s operate the route four times weekly. Competition comes from Malaysia Airlines (MAS)' six flights a week. Azran Osman-Rani, (CEO) (ASX), said: “In less than one year since the commencement of (ASX)’s inaugural flight to Tokyo in December 2010, we are pleased to be adding one of Japan’s commercial and economic hub into our growing international network. The four times weekly flight is expected to help meet demand from business and leisure travellers between South East Asia and Japan.”
January 2013: The AirAsia (ASW) group appears set to make acquisitions this year so it can expand its footprint farther across Asia. Possible takeover targets include Zest Air (RIT) in the Philippines, plus T'way (TWY) and Eastar (EJS) in South Korea. The (ASW) group is also believed to be eyeing potential opportunities to launch a carrier in Cambodia. To help fund its expansion and boost its balance sheet, AirAsia (ASW) plans to float some of its businesses. Its Kuala Lumpur-based, medium-haul low-cost carrier (LCC) AirAsia X (ASX) aims to have an initial public offering (IPO) early in 2013 on the Kuala Lumpur stock exchange. AirAsia (ASW) also wants to float its Indonesian affiliate, Indonesia AirAsia (AWR), on the Jakarta stock exchange.
AirAsia X ((IATA) Code: D7, based at Kuala Lumpur International (KUL)) (ASX) has announced that it will launch three times weekly A330-300 service from Kuala Lumpur International (KUL) to Jeddah King Abdul Aziz (JED) from February 16. It will be (ASX)'s 14th destination. AirAsia X (ASX) hopes to attract passengers flying in both directions, be they westbound religious pilgrims and expatriate workers or eastbound Saudi tourists.
It had previously cancelled all routes to Europe and the Middle East, where (ASX), the long-haul low-cost carrier (LCC) had served Abu Dhabi International (AUH), London Gatwick (LGW), Paris Orly (ORY), and Tehran Imam Khomeini International (IKA) before the route to Tehran was cancelled last October.
February 2013: AirAsia X (ASX) has introduced a “quiet zone” for ages 12 and up in the first seven economy (Y) class rows on A330-300 long-haul flights. The ancillary offering will be available on its long-haul service across China, Taiwan, Japan, Korea, Australia, and Nepal for the standard pick-a-seat fee of MYR35/$11.32 or MYR110 for extra legroom seats.
The designated section, rows 7 - 14, sits directly behind the premium flatbed cabin and will also feature soft, ambient lighting. “This product enhancement allows our guests to have a more pleasant and peaceful journey with minimal noise and less disturbance,” (ASX) (CEO), Azran Osman-Rani said. “The airline is not banning kids from traveling, but instead, is enhancing the array of product offerings on board to suit its guests’ individual needs and preferences.”
Osman-Rani noted the Malaysian low-cost carrier (LCC) also offers three infant bassinets in the other two larger economy (Y) cabin sections.
Malaysia Airlines (MAS) in April 2012 backed off from plans to offer a child-free zone on the upper deck of its Airbus A380. (MAS) said it would allow children under <12 on the upper deck when the main deck is full.
March 2013: AirAsia X (ASX), which in the previous week inaugurated flights on the route from the Malaysian capital to Jeddah, commenced operations on the route from Kuala Lumpur (KUL) to Shanghai Pudong (PVG) on 19 February. Six-weekly services on the 3,800 km route are operated until 1 May, when the frequency increases to daily. Azran Osman-Rani, (CEO) of (ASX), said: “We believe our presence in Shanghai would further solidify the AirAsia (ASW) Group’s position in China, offering guests a more affordable travel option and greater flight connections and flexibility between (ASEAN) and China.” Shanghai Pudong, which is the 14th Chinese destination of the AirAsia (ASW) Group, is already served from Kuala Lumpur with twice-daily services each by China Eastern (CEA) and Malaysia Airlines (MAS).
April 2013: AirAsia X (ASX) will increase Kuala Lumpur - Kathmandu service to 4X-weekly (from 3X weekly) on April 15.
AirAsia X (ASX) and Thai AirAsia (THA), which are creating a subsidiary based at Don Muang International Airport, have applied for an air operator’s certificate (AOC) in Thailand. Plans are to begin A330-300 long-haul service from Bangkok to Japan and South Korea later this year.
May 2013: Air Asia X (ASX) is adding frequencies to a number of Australian and Chinese cities this summer.
(ASX) has confirmed that it intends to establish a second base in Bangkok as part of its expansion strategy. In a revised draft prospectus lodged with Malaysia's Securities Commission ahead of a likely initial public offering (IPO), (ASX) says that in March, it established a company in Thailand with the intention of using it to launch a second base. "We plan to operate our first new hub outside Kuala Lumpur in Thailand through our newly-established associated company, THAI AAX, to tap into Thailand's well-known leisure market and to leverage on AirAsia (ASW)'s already established short-haul feeder network in Thailand," says (ASX).
It adds that the company is currently dormant, and has given no indication when it would be likely to start operations. AirAsia X (ASX) also estimates its initial cash commitment to the Thai company to be at $3.3 million, but adds that "depending on the level of operations, further capital contributions may be required in the near future". It did not say who are the other shareholders in the company, but it may include publicly-listed company Asia Aviation, the parent company of Thai AirAsia (THA).
(ASX) had stated previously that it sees the best opportunities for expansion coming from markets such as Indonesia, Thailand and the Philippines, where AirAsia (ASW) already has short-haul affiliate carriers that would be able to act as feeders for a long-haul service.
Earlier this year, media reports from Thailand indicated that AirAsia X (ASX) was planning to start a new base at Bangkok's Don Mueang airport with two A330-300s in the second half of this year, initially focusing on routes to South Korea and Japan.
International Lease Finance Corporation (ILFC) (ILF) has delivered the first of six A330-343 airplanes to AirAsia X (ASX). The company will deliver three additional A330-343s to (ASX) by the end of 2013, while the remaining two airplanes will be delivered in 2014.
The airplanes are equipped with Rolls Royce (RRC) (Trent 700) engines. The airplane will be operated on the airline’s expanding network in Asia Pacific, which includes the markets of Australia, China, Taiwan, Korea, Japan, and its surrounding regions.
1 A330-343E (1423, 9M-XXJ), ex-(F-WWTY), delivery.
AirAsia X (ASX) has a fleet of 12 A330s and two A340-300s and has orders for 17 more A330s and 10 A350-900XWBs.
July 2013: AirAsia X (ASX) is poised to build on its leading position in Asia’s emerging medium/long-haul low-cost sector after completing a successful initial public offering (IPO). The (IPO), which raised MYR 741 million/USD 232 million, will enable (ASX) to pursue ambitious fleet and network expansion with a focus on exploiting opportunities in the rapidly growing Asia-Pacific market.
While the low cost carrier (LCC) penetration rates within Southeast Asia are now above >50%, the medium-haul market connecting Southeast Asia with other parts of the Asia-Pacific region, remains relatively unpenetrated. AirAsia X (ASX) is now focusing on this market, having dropped long-haul services in early 2012 as part of a drastic network restructuring which has already improved its profitability and outlook. Expansion will come as (ASX) adds capacity in several markets it already serves from its existing hub in Kuala Lumpur and opens new bases in other Southeast Asian countries, starting with Thailand.
(ASX) is no longer the only wide body low-cost carrier (LCC) targeting Southeast Asia’s under-penetrated medium-haul markets. But the three other Asian carriers competing in this sector are smaller and have little or no growth planned for the next 18 months. (ASX) meanwhile plans to roughly double in size by the end of 2014, which should give it at least a 60% share of Southeast Asia’s medium/long-haul low-cost sector.
AirAsia X (ASX) grew its offering to South Korea on July 15th with the addition of four-weekly services from its Kuala Lumpur (KUL) base to South Korea's second-largest city, Busan (PUS). (ASX), which already offers 11 weekly flights to Seoul Incheon, operates all services with its fleet of 13 A330-300s.
Air Asia (ASW) intends to reduce growth at its Malaysia unit this year, taking only six new A320s instead of the previous ten planned, to the benefit of its Indonesian (AWR) and Thai (THA) subsidiaries. The start-up of AirAsia India (AAI), in partnership with Tata Sons (30%) and Arun Bhatia of Telestra Tradeplace (21%), previously anticipated for September, is almost certainly postponed to 2014 because of regulatory hurdles.
August 2013: AirAsia X (ASX)has extended its contract with AirFrance Industries (AFI) (KLM) Engineering & Maintenance for component support on its fleet of A330s and A340s.
The extended agreement includes an additional seven A330s (one new, six leased) and now covers component repairs, pool access and logistics services for a total of 32 A330s and two A340s.
The initial contract, signed in 2009, applied to a single leased airplane, but has been extended twice in order to support the expansion of (ASX), including 25 new A330s ordered from Airbus and two A340s.
September 2013: AirAsia X (ASX) will increase from 4X-weekly to daily, Kuala Lumpur - Osaka service from November 25.
October 2013: AirAsia X (ASX) has launched flights to two new destinations on September 28. From Kuala Lumpur (KUL), (ASX) has started operations to Colombo (CMB) in Sri Lanka, and Male (MLE) in the Maldives. However, the A330-operated flights are linked such that both destinations are served four times weekly, but on two of the four weekly flights the one destination is served via the other. In other words, there are twice-weekly flights (Thursdays and Sundays) that operate Kuala Lumpur - Colombo - Male - Kuala Lumpur, and twice-weekly flights (Tuesdays and Fridays) that operate Kuala Lumpur - Male - Colombo - Kuala Lumpur. Competition on both routes is provided by Malaysia Airlines (MAS) with daily flights, while SriLankan Airlines (LNK) serves the Colombo route with twice-daily flights.
Nok Air (NKA) is once again looking at the possibility of opening long-haul operations, despite abandoning similar plans in 2012. A spokesman for the company said that (NKA) is in the process of studying a long-haul operation, but would not elaborate on how advanced its plans are.
(NKA) previously studied launching a long-haul arm in conjunction with Thai Airways (TII) in 2011. Under that plan, (NKA) would have taken 777-200ERs from (TII) to launch the carrier and later transition to a 787 or Airbus A350 fleet.
That plan was put on ice in 2012, as (TII) moved toward a new portfolio strategy under which Nok (NKA) was to focus on the domestic and regional international budget market, while the mainline carrier would be the only entity to operate wide body airplanes.
Thai (TII) now holds a 39% stake in Nok (NKA) following (NKA)'s initial public offering (IPO) in June this year.
It is believed that (NKA) is once again looking at long-haul to compete against the likely launch later this year of a Thai base for AirAsia X (ASX). (ASX)’s Thai joint venture (JV), (TAAX), was expected to receive its Air Operator’s License (AOL) from Thailand’s department of Civil Aviation at the end of September, ahead of an application for an Air Operator’s Certificate (AOC).
(TAAX) is 49% owned by AirAsia X (ASX), while Thai AirAsia (TSA) (CEO), Tassapon Bijleveld holds 41% and local entrepreneur, Julpas Kruesopon holds the remaining 10%.
Later, Thailand’s Ministry of Transport approved the Air Operator’s License (AOL) issued previously by the Civil Department of Civil Aviation of Thailand for Thai AirAsia X (TAAX). The new airline is a joint venture (JV) long-haul start-up between low-cost, long-haul carrier AirAsia X (ASX) and Thai shareholders.
The company will launch operations following final (AOL) approval, expected by year end.
(TAAX) was incorporated as a shelf company in March with registered capital of THB15 million/$479,000. Following a (JV) agreement with local shareholders: Tassapon Bijleveld (TB) and Julpas Kruesopon (JK), paid-up share capital was increased to THB400 million, with (ASX) holding 49%, (TB) with 41%, and (JK) holding the remaining 10%.
(ASX) said the (AOL) approval is “a significant milestone,” bringing the airline group “a step closer” to realizing plans for its first international hub outside Kuala Lumpur. It expects to launch operations out of Bangkok in the first quarter of 2014, becoming the first long-haul, low-cost carrier (LCC) based in the Thai capital.
AirAsia X (ASX) (CEO), Azran Osman-Rani said: “Thai AirAsia X will capitalize on our collaboration with Thai AirAsia (THA), the largest short-haul, (LCC) in Thailand. With its 10-year track record, Thai AirAsia (TSA) has built a strong domestic and international short-haul network that can provide feeder traffic to Thai AirAsia X, which plans to be based in the same Don Muang Airport.”
He said (TAAX) would initially focus on destinations in North Asia and Australia where (ASX) has already built up brand awareness and operating bases, to speed up market penetration.
Osman-Rani added: “The establishment of our affiliate in Thailand is the beginning of (ASX)’s strategic multi-hub plan, in line with the regional expansion of the AirAsia (ASW) Group. The combination of multiple hubs and having both short-haul and long-haul networks is a strategic advantage over other competitors. The Thai hub also gives (ASX) an additional growth platform beyond its current base in Kuala Lumpur.”
November 2013: AirAsia X (ASX) reported an after-tax profit of +MYR26.4 million/+$8.4 million for the third quarter of the current financial year, down -46% from +MYR48.9 million during the year-ago period.
AirAsia X (ASX) has made Adelaide (ADL) its fifth destination in Australia, with the start of flights from Kuala Lumpur (KUL) on October 30th. It already serves Gold Coast, Melbourne, Perth, and Sydney. The route will be served four times weekly using 377-seat A330-300s. This brings to 18 the number of destinations served non-stop by AirAsia X (ASX) from Kuala Lumpur this winter. Competition on the Adelaide route is provided by Malaysia Airlines (MAS), who operate the 5,670 km route with a daily A330-300 service, which only offers 283 seats per flight.
Nagoya in Japan will become AirAsia X (ASX)’s third destination in Japan. (ASX) already flies to Tokyo and Osaka and will start flights to Chubu Centrair International Airport in Nagoya from Kuala Lumpur in March. (ASX) will operate four flights a week to Nagoya and is offering discounted introductory fares on the route.
Azran Osman-Rani, (CEO) of (ASX) said, “We are excited to announce our latest route to Nagoya, which marks our 3rd destination into Japan. “This marks another milestone for AirAsia X (ASX) and reiterates our expansion commitment in the key markets we operate in with the Asia-Pacific region,” said Azran Osman-Rani, (ASX) (CEO). “With the addition of Nagoya, guests will have more travel options to explore Japan, and we believe Nagoya being a scenic and historical destination will be a popular tourist destination. We have carried over half a million passengers to and from Japan. Japan contributed over >14% of our total revenue in the first half of 2013,” he added.
Osman-Rani said that while the service is aimed at the inbound Japan tourism market, Japanese travellers will also welcome the service. "Japanese guests also will be able to fly to a host of destinations from Kuala Lumpur using AirAsia (ASW)’s "Fly-Thru" service, which allows guests to easily connect between two different flights via the Kuala Lumpur Low Cost Carrier Terminal without having to worry about checking in twice” he added.
Fly-Thru routes available from Nagoya are: Adelaide, Gold Coast, Melbourne, Perth, and Sydney in Australia; Kochi in India; Bali, Bandung, Jakarta, Medan and Surabaya in Indonesia; Kota Kinabalu, Kuching, Langkawi and Penang in Malaysia; Singapore; Taipei in Taiwan; Bangkok and Phuket in Thailand; and Ho Chi Minh in Vietnam.
December 2013: AirAsia X (ASX) is determined to resume long-haul flights from Kuala Lumpur International to Paris Orly and London, terminated in 2011 owing to their poor financial performance. In an interview with "Les Echos" newspaper, AirAsia (ASW) Group (CEO), Tony Fernandes said his airline had isolated the routes' primary shortcoming (the use of A340-300s) and would rectify it by using A330-300s. "If fuel prices remain stable, we could reopen either Paris or London, or both, by the end of the year. But, as we are creating a new AirAsia X (ASX) subsidiary in Thailand, Thai AirAsia (Bangkok Don Mueang), it may be from Bangkok Don Mueang," he said. Air Asia X (ASX)'s London destinations included both London Stansted and London Gatwick at different times.
AirAsia X (ASX) has placed a firm order for 25 more A330-300s. According to Airbus (EDS), the contract is the largest A330 order in a single purchase agreement and increases (ASX)’s total firm orders for the type to 51. These will be supplemented by another six A330-300s leased from International Lease Finance Corporation (ILFC).
Deliveries will begin in 2015 as (ASX) begins a major expansion of its network across the Asia-Pacific region. The new order includes the latest extended range versions of the A330-300, enabling the carrier to offer nonstop service to destinations in Europe or one-stop service to the USA.
(ASX) co-Founder & Director, Tony Fernandes said, “This order stamps our firm intent to dominate the long-haul, low-cost carrier (LCC) space and marks the next phase in our development to be the undisputed global market leader. Our commitment would allow us to remain as the youngest wide body fleet age in the region at under five years throughout 2019, with corresponding competitive fuel efficiency, reliability and cabin comfort benefits.”
Fernandes added, “The airplane orders further cater to our expansion plans in Malaysia, and the proposed new Thai AirAsia X hub as well as other long-haul ventures planned across Asia. The developments will complement the AirAsia (ASW) Group’s long-term vision of developing its presence in key markets in Asia and strengthen the connectivity between long-haul and short-haul low-cost network.”
AirAsia X (ASX) operates 16 A330-300s on services linking its Kuala Lumpur base to destinations in Asia, the Middle East, and the Pacific. (ASX) also has 10 A350 XWB airplanes on order for future delivery.
(ASX) currently operates 19 airplanes, serves 10 countries, 20 destinations, 20 routes, and operates 39 daily flights.
February 2014: AirAsia X ((IATA) Code: D7, based at Kuala Lumpur International) (ASX) is to establish a longhaul hub out of Denpasar after it's new subsidiary, Indonesia AirAsia X (based at Denpasar) (IAX), was granted an Air Services Licence (ASL) by the Indonesian Directorate General of Civil Aviation. A 49-51 partnership between (ASX)and PT Kirana Anugerah Perkasa (PTKAP) (KPA), the new carrier is now in the process of applying for its Air Operator's Certificate (AOC). According to the terms of the airline's Malaysian stock market filing, (IAX) will use its Indonesian sister-carrier, Indonesia AirAsia ((IATA) Code: QZ, based at Jakarta Soekarno-Hatta) (AWR), to provide it with feeder traffic from its extensive local network as well as from north Asia and Australia. Bali, it said, is a large tourism and travel market, with no current long-haul low-cost carrier (LCC) based there. Once established, Bali will be AirAsia X (ASX)'s third hub after Kuala Lumpur International and Bangkok Don Mueang with A330-300s to be based in Denpasar.
March 2014: AirAsia X (ASX) has inaugurated its Kuala Lumpur - Nagoya service using an Airbus A330-300 into Chubu Centrair International Airport. Described by (ASX) (CEO), Azran Osman-Rani as “being very much in line with the [Japan] government's tourism agenda, and our commitment to boost the tourism industry,” the new route will see linked fares across (ASX)’s network from destinations in Malaysia, Australia, Indonesia, Singapore, Thailand, India, and Vietnam.
With four weekly flight from Kuala Lumpur to Nagoya, (ASX) is hoping the Japanese market will further boost returns from the north Asia region, where it has gained some 0.5 million passengers in two years on its Osaka and Tokyo routes, along with a 14% contribution to the company’s total revenues in the first half of last year.
The 5,080 km route will be flown using (ASX)’s A330-300s. The first flight arrived in Nagoya with 341 passengers on board, representing a 90% LF load factor. Nagoya is AirAsia X’s third destination in Japan after Osaka Kansai and Tokyo Haneda. Azran Osman-Rani, (CEO) of (ASX) said, “With (ASX)’s renowned low fares, guests from Japan may now travel from our ports in Tokyo, Osaka and Nagoya when exploring their travel and holiday plans to the South East Asia region and beyond via the Kuala Lumpur hub. This is very much in line with the government’s tourism agenda, and (ASX)’s commitment to boost the Malaysian tourism industry as well as increase tourism traffic across our group network. Similarly, with the addition of Nagoya, guests will have more travel options to explore Japan, and we believe Nagoya being a scenic and historical destination will be a popular tourist destination.”
April 2014: The long-haul low cost phenomenon in Asia is quickly translating to a more effective competitor for conventional network operations. At the forefront is AirAsia X (ASX) and its original base of Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA).
On the eve of opening (KLIA)'s new low cost carrier (LCC) terminal, (ASX) is rapidly growing its connecting traffic as the medium/long-haul (LCC) thickens its schedule and builds out its network. Transit traffic accounted for 43% of (ASX) total passenger traffic in 2013, up from only 25% in 2011. (ASX) expects this figure to approach 50% in 2014.
The growth in transit traffic has huge implications for the AirAsia Group and its main hub, (KLIA) airport. There are also implications for other Asian carriers and hubs as AirAsia (ASW)starts to compete on city pairs that previously did not have any (LCC) options.
The gains in transit traffic at (KLIA), which has recorded the fastest passenger growth over the last 15 months among Asia’s major airports, come at the expense of rival hubs. For example, neighboring Singapore Changi (SIN) has seen growth moderate significantly and risks a further slowdown, unless it can attract a surge from the emerging (LCC) transit sector.
AirAsia X has expanded rapidly over the last year, cementing its position as the world’s largest medium/long-haul (LCC). (ASX) grew its fleet in 2013 from 12 to 19 airplanes (16 A330-300s, one A330-200 and two A340s), giving it a 49% share of the total wide body (LCC) fleet in the Asia-Pacific.
Jetstar (IMU)’s long-haul unit, Australia-based Jetstar International (IMU), ended 2013 with 12 airplanes (10 A330-200s and two 787-8s), while Singapore Airlines (SIA) long-haul (LCC) subsidiary, Scoot (SCT) ended the year with six airplanes (777-200s) and Cebu Pacific (CEB)’s new Philippines-based long-haul unit ended 2013 with two airplanes (A330-300s).
Jetstar International (IMU) launched services in 2006, while (ASX) began operation in 2007. Both carriers quickly recognized connections were essential for the long-haul (LCC) model to be viable. Prior long-haul (LCC) start-ups largely failed because they were completely independent and had no feed, leaving them highly vulnerable to selective competition from established network airlines.
Jetstar (IMU) has closely guarded its transit passenger figures, although it has talked generally about the growth in connecting traffic within the group, particularly between its long-haul and short-haul units, as well with parent, Qantas (QAN) and outside partners. (ASX) has been more forthcoming, particularly since its 2013 initial public offering (IPO).
(ASX) transported 3.2 million passengers in 2013, with 1.4 million or 43% connecting at Kuala Lumpur onto other AirAsia (ASW) Group flights. About 800,000 or 25% connected through the group’s "Fly-Thru" product, which offers passengers the option of paying an extra fee to through check bags and receive a boarding pass for the connection flight, while about 600,000 or 18% opted to self-connect.
About 1.1 million passengers or 34% connected onto short-haul flights operated under the AirAsia (ASW) brand, while about 300,000 or 9% connected onto other AirAsia X (ASX)-operated flights.
The 1.4 million represents about a +40% increase in transit passengers compared to 2012, and a more than doubling compared to 2011. In 2012, (ASX) flew 2.6 million total passengers with just under 1 million or 38% connecting. In 2011, (ASX) flew 2.5 million total passengers with only 25% or about 600,000 connecting.
AirAsia X (ASX) projects transit traffic will account for 46% of total passenger traffic in 2014, and believes the 50% threshold could potentially be reached, as several initiatives to promote Fly-Thru sales are implemented.
(ASX) introduced Fly-Thru sales on mobile devices in February 2014 and has begun offering Fly-Thru on Global Distribution Systems (GDS)s.
(ASX) is also introducing origin and destination pricing, replacing the sum of sectors pricing formula, which is generally used by (LCC)s.
With origin and destination fares, (ASX) should be able to compete more effectively against full-service carriers, which adjust fares on an origin and destination basis. While Asia’s flag carriers over the last decade have had to deal with increasing competition, regionally from (LCC)s, the expansion by (ASX) into one-stop city pairs, with extremely competitive origin and destination pricing, poses a new threat.
For now, the impact is small, given the relatively small traffic volumes and relatively small number of long-haul (LCC)s. But as (ASX) and other long-haul (LCC)s expand, full-service carriers will see new (LCC) options increasingly pop up not only on new medium/long-haul point-to-point sectors, but hundreds of city pairs, which are not large enough to support non-stop services. These types of city pairs have traditionally been only sold by full-service airlines, often with high margins. The impact on full-service groups over time could be significant.
The biggest short-term impact on full-service airline groups could be in the Australia - North Asia market, which has become a focus of (ASX), as it looks to increase (ASX) to (ASX) connections. (ASX) aims to have 16% of its total traffic in 2014 connect onto another (ASX) flight, compared to only 9% in 2013, and 4% in 2011 and 2012.
(ASX) estimates it captured a 10% share of the Australia - North Asia market in 2013, and aims to double this to 20% in 2014. This is a logical market for (ASX) to promote, as it is relatively under-served, particularly from a (LCC) perspective, and compared to the intensely competitive, Australia - Southeast Asia market.
(ASX) has roughly doubled capacity to Australia over the last year, and needs to push up the connection portion of its Australia traffic, as the local Australia - Malaysia market is not large enough to support the capacity increase.
The Australia - North Asia push is made possible, as (ASX) has added second daily flights to its main Australian destinations, opening up faster connection options. The number of weekly frequencies available under the "Fly-Thru" product, increased by +69% in 2013 to 4,614, and is expected to increase by another +28% in 2014 to 5,883.
The number of city pairs being sold under the (ASX) Fly-Thru product is expected to reach 344 at the end of 2014, up +18% compared to the 292 city pairs offered as of the end of 2013.
AirAsia X (ASX) is adding three airplanes to its Malaysia-based fleet in 2014 for a total of 22 airplanes (20 A330s and two A340s). While the fleet expansion in Malaysia is slower than 2013, the expansion from a year-over-year capacity standpoint is faster, as a majority of the 2013 deliveries came in the latter portion of the year. (ASX) (ASK)s were up +19% in 2013, while (RPK)s increased by +17%, seats by +26%, and passenger numbers by +22%.
The 2013 expansion was focused primarily on thickening routes, which is critical in driving more transit traffic, because more connections open up as frequencies are added. A second daily flight to Melbourne, Perth, Sydney, and Taipei was introduced in 2013, while Beijing, Chengdu, Gold Coast, Hangzhou, Kathmandu, Osaka, and Shanghai were increased to daily.
(ASX) plans to increase Seoul and Tokyo to double daily in 2014, while Adelaide will be increased to daily. Three new routes are also planned for 2014 (Chongqing, Nagoya, and Xian).
(ASX) is projecting a +48% increase in (ASK)s for 2014. Faster growth is occurring in the first half, driven by A330 deliveries from second half (2H) 2013, with +72% year over year (ASK) growth for (1Q) 2014 and 60% for (2Q) 2014.
As a group, (ASX) has seven A330 deliveries in 2014, matching the figure from 2013. But four of these deliveries have been allocated to new affiliates Thai AirAsia X (TAAX) (THX) and Indonesia AirAsia X (IAAX) (IAX).
(THX) is currently operating one airplane on charter flights to Tokyo, and plans to began scheduled operations on June 17, 2014 with service to Seoul. (IAAX) (IAX) plans to launch operations in (4Q) 2014 with services to Australia and North Asia. Both carriers plan to have a fleet of two A330-300s by the end of 2014.
Connections are also a key component of the business model for (THX) and (IAX). Short-haul affiliate, Thai AirAsia (THA) introduced at its Bangkok Don Mueang hub in late 2013, the Fly-Thru product, which previously was only available for connections at (KLIA).
Thai AirAsia (THA) is now promoting short-haul to short-haul connections and expects the ability to feed (THX) will result in an incremental +1% to +2% gain in load factor. Indonesia AirAsia (AWR) also expects a surge of traffic at its Bali hub after the launch of (IAAX).
(ASX)'s multiple hub strategy envisions rapid growth driven by more point-to-point traffic, as more dots in the AirAsia (ASW) network are connected. But even more crucially, the strategy sees huge opportunities to drive up transit traffic, as new city pairs are opened up and as options on existing city pairs are expanded. (ASX) believes this will enable it to triple in size over the next three years, without having to add new destinations to its network.
Denpasar Bali Ngurah Rai and Bangkok Don Mueang airports are poised to benefit from the (ASX) strategy, as new sources of traffic are opened up.
The benefit for (KLIA) as (ASX) has expanded its transit traffic, is obvious. Kuala Lumpur was the fastest growing major Asian airport in 2013, and again in (1Q) 2014. Passenger traffic was up +19% in 2013 to 47.5 million and +16% in (1Q) 2014 to 12.3 million.
While conventional wisdom would point to the launch of new Lion Air (MLI) Group, Malaysian subsidiary, Malindo Air (MXD) as driving the growth, (MXD) carried less than <1 million passengers at (KLIA) in 2013. (ASW) and (MAS) accounted for a much bigger proportion of the growth, with increasing transit traffic for both groups the main driver.
(MAS) pushed up its transit share of total passenger traffic from about 30% to 35% in 2012 to about 40% in 2013. Although these figures are not official or exact, they indicate that most of (KLIA)’s growth in 2013, was driven by transit growth at Malaysia’s two main airline groups. This theory is supported by logic, as it unlikely the local Malaysian market would have been able to support the +19% increase in traffic.
While the additional (MAS) transit passengers accounted for a much larger share of the growth then the additional AirAsia transit passengers, the growth at (MAS) is likely a one-time occurrence, driven by adjustments in fare strategy (and the flag carrier continues to be loss-making). The rapid growth in transit traffic at AirAsia (ASW), however, is likely to continue.
Kuala Lumpur traffic overall should continue growing, albeit at a slower pace than 2013 and (1Q) 2014, as (ASX) expands and drives up its transit traffic. There are seemingly tremendous opportunities for further growth in this segment (with the clear implication that this can shift the competitive balance with neighboring hubs).
The recent growth spurt at (KLIA), and the success the airport has had at increasing (LCC) transit traffic, should serve as a wake up call for Singapore and Changi. While (KLIA) traffic has been growing at a rate approaching +20%, traffic at Changi grew by only +5% in 2013, and by only +1% in (1Q) 2014.
More (LCC) transit traffic could unlock a new period of growth for Singapore. But if Changi does not succeed at attracting this new segment, traffic will likely grow in the low single digits over the short to medium term.
While AirAsia (ASW) has steadily grown its transit traffic, Scoot (SCT) and Tigerair (TGR) currently see an extremely low volume of transfer traffic. The two carriers began offering joint itineraries over one year ago, but the partnership has not yet generated significant traffic. Approval in their pending application with Singapore competition authorities for permission to discuss coordinating schedules could help, but (SCT) and (TGR) will still need to take the initiative and implement a stronger partnership.
Jetstar (IMU) has had more success with transit traffic in Singapore, with at least 15% of the group’s passengers at Changi transiting. But (IMU) has cut back its long-haul operation at Singapore to just one route, and also has stopped pursuing growth of its Singapore-based, short-haul operation, limiting transit traffic growth opportunities.
If (SCT) and (TGR) were able to follow the AirAsia X (ASX)/AirAsia (ASW) model in pursuing transit traffic, Changi could easily see a double-digit increase in (LCC) traffic, without having to rely on its increasingly mature local short-haul (LCC) sector.
For now, the numbers may not seem huge (the 1.4 million transit passengers (ASX) recorded in 2013, represents only 3% of (KLIA)’s total traffic. But the growth opportunities and implications in the emerging medium/long-haul (LCC) transit sector are staggering.
(LCC)s are only just beginning to penetrate medium/long-haul one-stop city pairs, such as Sydney - Siem Reap, Manila - Kathmandu, and Medan - Seoul. A shift in the airlines and hubs, which see these kinds of flows, is surely inevitable.
(ASX) has selected (GE) Aviation (GEC)’s (CF6-80E1) engines to power its order of 25 Airbus A330-300s, plus three options, in a deal worth $1.5 billion at list prices. The deal includes a multi-year OnPoint solution service agreement.
AirAsia (ASW) Group (CEO), Tony Fernandes said the engine order “will ensure AirAsia X (ASX) maintains our competitive advantage as the world’s lowest unit cost airline operator, with industry-leading reliability performance. With this order, (GEC) will become (ASX)’s second core engine supplier. Our fleet size has reached sufficient scale to support two engine types, with sufficient spare engine coverage, specialist engineers and technicians, and strong on-site service commitment from both engine providers.”
May 2014: AirAsia X (ASX) reported a first-quarter net loss of -MYR11.3 million/-$3.5 million, reversing a net profit of +MYR50.2 million for the year-ago period. The long-haul, low-cost affiliate of the AirAsia Group said that, despite a +60.1% increase in capacity (its highest ever year-over-year quarterly capacity growth) to 6.2 billion (ASK)s, (ASX) saw revenue rise +40% to a record MYR750 million for the quarter. Capacity growth is expected to taper off in the coming quarters, in line with (ASX)’s airplane delivery commitments.
(ASX) (CEO), Azran Osman-Rani said, “The aggressive capacity expansion phase we undertook is starting to bear fruit. We’ve proven we can stimulate new demand and achieve a market leadership position. As new capacity typically takes 12 months to reach breakeven, we expect to see yield improvement and an earnings turnaround in the second half of this year, after the seasonally weakest second quarter, and taking into account the aviation industry starting to stabilize its capacity roll-out.”
First-quarter operating expenses increased +64.1% to MYR786 million compared to the year-ago period. While many cost items (such as fuel, airplanes and Engineering) were adversely affected by the decline in value of the Malaysian ringgit against the USA dollar, costs for controllable items fell -12% year-on-year as a result of cost control initiatives and scale advantages. “We recently strengthened the leadership of our commercial function and have implemented new initiatives in Revenue Management, Marketing and Distribution to capitalize on the stronger network we have built with more frequencies and connectivity. We expect these initiatives to push our (RASK) to positive territory for the full year,” Azran said.
First-quarter (RPK)s were up +63.3% to 5.3 billion year-over-year, while passenger load factor was up +1.6 points to a record 85.8% LF, despite the capacity surge.
The number of passengers carried for the quarter was up to just over >1 million, up +66.9% year-over-year.
AirAsia X (ASX) said it would continue to benefit from strong growth in the Asia-Pacific region, which pundits forecast will soon surpass North America as the world’s largest aviation market, feeding its long-haul routes. (ASX) said that, barring any unforeseen circumstances (including fuel price hikes and more extreme foreign currency fluctuations) its prospects remain positive.
AirAsia X (ASX) named Dato’ Bernard Francis as its new Commercial Director.
July 2014: Low-cost carrier (LCC) AirAsia X (ASX) signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) for 50 Airbus A330-900neos, becoming the launch airline customer for the re-engined wide body that was launched Monday July 14th at the Farnborough Airshow.
The deal, with a list price of $13 billion, follows (MOU)s for A330neos from three lessors that were announced this week. Air Lease Corporation (ALE), Avolon (AZV) and (CIT) Aerospace (TCI) announced commitments for 25, 15 and 15 airplanes, respectively.
The A330neo will be sole-source powered by a new Rolls-Royce (RRC) (Trent 7000) engine, a derivative of the (Trent 700). It will also have Sharklet winglets and up to 10 extra seats for overall fuel savings of -14% per seat, compared to the current A330, according to Airbus (EDS).
The AirAsia X (ASX) deal brings the total order for the A330neo to 105 airplanes so far this month.
AirAsia X (ASX) co-Founder & Director, Tony Fernandes said he was an early proponent for the A330neo and he “just kept nagging” Airbus (EDS) to launch the airplane. “There was no Plan B; I had to make them make this airplane,” he said. “I thought there was a massive opportunity for a medium-haul airplane.”
He admitted that ideally he would have liked to have seen an engine choice. “As an airline, we like two [engines] because that means competition, but ([Rolls-Royce (RRC)) has been fantastic, and I think GE (GEC) has missed out big time. I think in years to come, (GEC) will regret not going with this airplane.”
The flamboyant entrepreneur, who started a low-cost carrier (LCC) revolution in Asia, revealed that he was on vacation on the Italian island of Capri this past weekend, when he was contacted by Airbus (EDS) to tell them (EDS) had the board go-ahead to launch the A330neo. “My beautiful vision of Capri was destroyed by [Airbus (COO) Customers] John Leahy’s face,” he joked.
Airbus (EDS) and Rolls (RRC) executives flew to Capri and the deal was signed on a jet. “At 40,000 feet, we were still haggling,” Fernandes said, “I think this plane will be remarkable; I term it a killer plane and I applaud (EDS) and (RRC) for launching it.”
The AirAsia (ASW) Group now has orders and commitments for 630 Airbus (EDS) airplanes.
AirAsia X (ASX) has launched 4x-weekly, Airbus A330 service from Kuala Lumpur to Xi’an, its fifth Chinese destination.
(ASX) (CEO), Azran Osman-Rani said (ASX) is the first to fly directly to Xi’an from Kuala Lumpur, as the low cost carrier (LCC) expands services across the wider Asian region. (ASX) said the new emphasis on northern Asia will likely see China overhaul Australia as its prime destination. “With Xi’an and another route to China to be announced soon, we expect China to surpass Australia [as a destination] within about 12 months,” Azran said.
Australia currently accounts for around 34% of (ASX)’s revenue and passenger load; China accounts for around 25%. “Adding Xi’an into the (ASX) network in China proves our commitment in our growth strategies in the Asia-Pacific region, and will further expand [our] reach into North Asia,” he said.
(ASX) currently flies to Beijing, Hangzhou, Chengdu, and Shanghai.
(ASX) said it expects to see the new regional Chinese routes “increase total revenue over >17%, with more than >1 million guests flying into/from our China destinations this year,” adding, it is aiming for an 80% LF-plus passenger load factor.
AirAsia X (ASX) has now put Europe routes off its agenda after its new A330neo order; it has dropped 10 of 29 routes since 2007. In the months after (ASX)’s Initial Public Offering (IPO) in mid-2013, (ASX) went through a period of rapid growth. Having operated around 70 - 90 weekly departures from its Kuala Lumpur base, between August 2010 and June 2013, (ASX) then expanded its flights by over >50% in the space of just six months. While new routes to Adelaide, Busan, Colombo, and Malé accounted for an additional 13 weekly departures, an additional 36 weekly departures were operated on existing routes. Perth and Sydney each went from daily flights to double-daily, while Melbourne went from nine weekly flights to 14.
With new routes to Jeddah and Shanghai having started earlier in 2013, last year saw AirAsia X (ASX) start six new routes, equalling the number started in 2010. Since launching operations in November 2007, (ASX) has started service to 29 destinations across Asia, Australia, the Middle East, and Europe. However, only 19 of these are still operating. (ASX)’s three routes to Europe (London Gatwick, London Stansted, and Paris Orly) were operated by four-engined A340s which (ASX) considered uneconomic. The two Indian routes (Delhi and Mumbai) were dropped as a result of significant increases in airport charges, while demand for Christchurch services suffered after a major earthquake in the New Zealand city. This year, (ASX) has started two new services; Nagoya in Japan on March 17th and Xi’an in China on July 2nd.
Of the 19 routes currently operated from Kuala Lumpur, five are to destinations in Australia, 13 are in Asia, while just one (Jeddah) is in the Middle East. Seven of the routes face no direct competition (Busan, Chengdu, Gold Coast, Hangzhou, Nagoya, Tokyo Haneda, and Xi’an). On the other 12 routes, (ASX) faces competition from Malaysia Airlines (MAS), and on seven of these, there is additional competition from other carriers such as (EVA) Air, Korean Air (KAL), SriLankan Airlines (LNK) and Saudia (SVA).
When measured by Available Seat Kilometers (ASK)s, the five Australian routes account for almost 45% of (ASX)’s weekly capacity, well ahead of China (17%), Japan (13%), and South Korea (10%). The remaining four country markets (Nepal, Saudi Arabia, Sri Lanka, and Taiwan) account for 15% of weekly (ASK)s. Melbourne, Perth, Sydney, and Taipei are currently the only destinations served with as many as two daily flights, every day of the week. It is worth noting that Qantas (QAN) does not serve Kuala Lumpur.
AirAsia X’s fleet now comprises 22 airplanes. In the first quarter of 2014, (ASX) took delivery of one A330-300 on finance lease and two A330-300s on operating lease, bringing its total number of A330-300s to 19, including one A330-300 for Thai AirAsia X (THX). (ASX) also still has two A340-300s and one A330-200 for wet lease and charter operations in its fleet.
The A330-300s are configured with 12C premium flatbed seats and 365Y economy seats. This is considerably more than most other carriers operating the same airplanes. Lufthansa (DLH)’s have a mere 221 seats, but Iberia (IBE) (277), Malaysia Airlines (MAS) (283), Singapore Airlines (SIA) (285), Turkish Airlines (THY) (289), US Airways (AMW)/(USA)(291), Air China (BEJ) (301), and Cathay Pacific (CAT) (307) all have between 275 and 310 seats. However, by operating an all-economy (Y) configuration, Cebu Pacific Air (CEB) manages to squeeze in a total of 436Y seats into its A330-300s according to its website.
Earlier this month, it was announced that AirAsia X (ASX) had entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Airbus (EDS) to purchase 50 A330-900neos that will be delivered from 2018 to 2024. Whether this will enable (ASX) to resume flights to Europe, remains to be seen, as the newer A330neos will have a better range (around 750 kms) and lower fuel consumption than the existing airplanes. Jeddah is currently (ASX)’s longest sector at just over >7,000 km. Flights to London and Paris clock in at around 10,500 kms.
According to (ASX)'s latest annual report, almost 3.2 million passengers were transported on AirAsia X (ASX) flights in 2013, at an average load factor of just over >82% LF. However, (ASX)’s post-(IPO) expansion in late 2013, took its toll on profitability, and (ASX) reported a loss in 2013, something it also experienced in 2011. On a positive note, (ASX) airplane utilization of 16.3 hours per day set a new record for (ASX).
Figures for the first quarter of 2014 show that passenger numbers are up +67% to 1.08 million, while load factor has also improved from 84.2% LF in 2013 1st quarter (Q1) to 85.8% LF in 2014 (Q1). The average sector length has fallen by -2% to 4,947 kms.
Anna.Aero comments: "Running scared? Air Asia X (ASX) (CEO), Azran Osman-Rani has competed multiple times in the Gold Coast Marathon: “The Gold Coast route has a very special significance for (ASX) (Gold Coast was very similar to us) a small airport that had big growth ambitions. So AirAsia (ASW)/(ASX) have been sending our running team to the Gold Coast Marathon every year since 2009, and we are big supporters of the race.” In some contrast, Osman-Rani has gone to extreme lengths to avoid competing for the “Fastest Airline (CEO) In The World Prize” in September’s Budapest Runway Run which is part-organised by anna.aero (even curtailing any chance that his airline will return to European routes, just so he can avoid being defeated). Is this really in the best shareholder interest Azran?
August 2014: AirAsia X (ASX) reported a second-quarter net loss of -MYR128.9 million/-$40.9 million, widened from the -MYR32.3 million net loss reported for the year-ago period.
The long-haul, low-cost affiliate of the AirAsia (ASW) Group attributes much of the deepening losses to its ongoing strategy of capacity and network expansion.
(ASX) (CEO), Azran Osman-Rani said: “Although our capacity expansion has put short-term pressure on earnings performance, the long-term strategic advantages are very compelling. We now have our strongest route network, with multiple cities in each of our markets, and strong frequencies that lead to convenient transfer connections.”
Second-quarter revenue was up +36.7% to MYR671.6 million, but operating expenses were also up +59% to MYR807.3 million. As a result, the second-quarter operating loss deepened to -MYR130.4 million from -MYR11.6 million in the year-ago period.
Traffic (RPK)s grew +44% in the second quarter to 5.04 billion, while capacity (ASK)s increased +47% year-on-year to 6.26 billion (ASK)s for the quarter ended June 30, although the rate of growth was down from the first-quarter peak of 60%. Tactical capacity reduction over the next two quarters is expected to see (ASK)s increase +24% in the third quarter, dropping to 12% in the fourth quarter.
Load factor fell -1.4% points to 80.4% LF. However, (ASX) said a sustained load factor performance above 80% LF “demonstrates the ability to keep stimulating new travel and tourism demand to fill up the new capacity added.”
Passenger numbers for the quarter broke through the million mark, up +46.2% from just over 697,112 in the second-quarter of 2013.
Looking forward, Azran said: “As we approach the end of the year after 12 months since we added a lot of new capacity in the 2013 fourth quarter, we expect (RASK) yields to return to positive growth and reach the levels recorded before the expansion. This in turn will return us to profitability, particularly as global fuel prices are expected to soften, while Asian currencies are expected to stabilize. We are already seeing yields catch up in Taipei, the first route to have a doubling of capacity to twice-weekly services that commenced in July 2013.”
He said that regional subsidiary, Thai AirAsia X (THX) had a successful first three months of operations, recording an 88% LF average passenger load factor on its inaugural Bangkok - Seoul route.
“The investments in international associates gives us more room for further growth and strengthens our market position in each of our destinations as customers have multiple direct flight options to choose from,” Azran said.
He added that the 50 Airbus A330-900neo airplanes on order would give (ASX) “a huge lead over other players in this space.”
Malaysian low-cost carrier (LCC) AirAsia X (ASX) has unveiled its latest connection to China. Commencing on February 13, 2015, (ASX) will operate four weekly flights to the city of Chongqing. Services will operate every Monday, Tuesday, Friday and Sunday, departing Kuala Lumpur (KL) International Airport at 4:00 pm and arriving at Chongqing's Jiangbei International Airport at 10:00 pm. The return flight will then leave Chongqing at 11:55 pm, getting back into (KL) at 4:15 am the following morning.
All services will be operated using (ASX)'s 377-seat Airbus A330-300 airplanes, with business (C) and economy (Y) class cabins.
Chongqing will become AirAsia X (ASX)'s sixth destination in China, following Hangzhou, Chengdu, Beijing, Shanghai, and Xi'an. Once the flights launch, (ASX) will be the only airline offering direct flights between (KL) and Chongqing.
AirAsia X (ASX) has revealed new livery exclusive to its 21st Airbus A330-300 called "Xcintillating PhoeniX" - - SEE PHOTO - - "ASX-A330-300 - 2014-08." (ASX) had previously held a social media contest to mark the delivery of its 21st A330 airplane and the winning entry would decide the plane's livery and choose from a list of seven names.
(ASX) (CEO), Azran Osman-Rani said that he was pleased about the new delivery and the new opportunities in future. "We are euphoric to welcome "Xcintillating PhoeniX" as our 21st A330-300 airplane from Toulouse. The livery design by Mr Denzel Yap Shuet Lih showcased our company's values of being bold, different and vibrant," Mr Osman-Rani said. "We look forward to receiving the remaining 2 airplanes for this year, which will definitely open up new opportunities for (ASX). Deliveries of new airplanes will fortify our stand to expand further in Asia Pacific and gain first mover advantage. It will also contribute to our multi-hub strategy in Thailand and Indonesia.
"The multi-hub strategy will enable us to provide our guests with more diverse and convenient flight options. "It is going to be an exciting year for (ASX) and we are ready to conquer the region!"
September 2014: Indonesian authorities have approved an AirAsia X (ASX) joint venture (JV) ("Indonesia AirAsia Extra" (INX)), although its first routes and launch date have not yet been announced.
The new carrier (INX) has been awarded an air operator’s certificate (AOC) by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation, following the approval of an air service license in January. Gaining an (AOC) clears the way for the start-up to apply for the operating permits and slots it needs for initial routes. This process involves civil aviation authorities outside Indonesia.
The airline is a (JV) between Malaysia’s AirAsia X (ASX), which is the long-haul arm of the AirAsia Group, and Indonesia’s PT Kirana Anugerah Perkasa. The specific launch date will depend on when route permissions and airport slots can be obtained. The airline is sticking with its previous broad target of flying by the end of the year.
Bali’s Denpasar International Airport will be the main hub for the Indonesian start-up; a second hub (expected to be in Jakarta) is still being discussed. The airline will launch with one Airbus A330-300, with further fleet additions also dependent on slot and route approvals.
While the carrier has yet to reveal its first routes, AirAsia X (ASX) executives have previously said the airline will focus first on Australian destinations, followed by services to North Asia. One or two routes are expected initially, with Sydney and Melbourne, the most likely candidates.
The airline will be able to draw from the (ASX) order book, which includes 50 A330neos. (INX)’s first A330 comes from the (ASX) fleet.
Indonesia AirAsia Extra (INX) will draw feeder traffic from the AirAsia Indonesia (AWR) short-haul franchise (AWR) that has already been established in Indonesia. The long-haul carrier (INX) is the second (JV) established by AirAsia X (ASX), following a similar operation established in Thailand in June. Thai AirAsia X (THX) is initially focusing on North Asia, and may fly to Australia in late 2015 or early 2016, according to an (ASX) executive.
The new carrier (INX) will face tough competition in the Indonesian market, which is already extensively served by low-cost carriers (LCCs) Lion Air (MLI), AirAsia (ASW) and Jetstar (IMU). The strong (LCC) presence in this market is believed to be one reason why Garuda Indonesia (GIA) did not receive an acceptable bid in its attempt to sell a stake in its Citilink (CNK) (LCC) subsidiary.
Competition will also be fierce in the Australian market, which has a growing number of long-haul (LCC)s offering international service.
Indonesia AirAsia X (INX) has been granted an operating licence in a move that sets the stage for an even bigger battle among airlines on flights between the east coast of Australia and Bali.
Jetstar (IMU), Virgin Australia (VOZ) and Garuda Indonesia (GIA) all offer flights between Australia and Denpasar. The routes are highly competitive and are popular with the lower-yielding leisure market rather than the more lucrative corporate market and have been weak performers for airlines over the last year.
Indonesia AirAsia X (INX), which earlier received its air operator's certificate (AOC) from the Indonesian government, plans to fly A330-300 airplanes.
The partner airline to Kuala Lumpur-based long-haul, low-cost carrier (LCC) AirAsia X (ASX) could launch flights between the east coast and Bali by early next year, with Melbourne - Denpasar tipped as the likely first route.
(INX) will also offer onward connections from its Bali hub to other destinations such as Jakarta, Kuala Lumpur, and Singapore. It already offers flights from Perth and Darwin to Denpasar.
Virgin (VOZ) last month took a AU$51 million impairment on its international business, which Chief Financial Officer (CFO), Sankar Narayan attributed particularly to weakness on its Bali routes due to increased capacity and competition.
(VOZ) flies 737s from the east coast to Denpasar, versus the larger Boeing 787 Dreamliners flown by Jetstar (IMU) and the A330s used by (GIA).
Qantas Airways (QAN)'s low-cost carrier (LCC) arm, Jetstar (IMU) has also been struggling on its south-east Asian routes. The Jetstar Group (CEO), Jayne Hrdlicka last month told analysts there was an "unprecedented" level of capacity within south-east Asia and between Australia and south-east Asia. "Our result in our Jetstar International (IMU) flying also reflects some of that," she said. Ms Hrdlicka said she expected the bottom of the cycle had been reached in the region, but yields, or returns on fares, were not expected to increase quickly.
Center for Aviation (CAPA) said it was difficult to see (VOZ) sustaining its south-east Asian network, which consists of flights to Bali and Phuket, due to the increasing amount of competition. "Bali and Phuket have been impacted by an increase in capacity from Asian carriers, notably low-cost carriers that have a lower cost base through their Asian geography but also (in the case of AirAsia X (ASX) and Scoot (SCT)) through wide body usage, lowering unit costs," it said. "At the same time, (VOZ)'s cost base has increased. (ASX) and Scoot (SCT) operate wide bodies near their certified maximum, while (VOZ) has a medium density on its narrow bodies, which can be further hampered by having to block seats in order to fly non-stop."
(VOZ) also uses its fleet of 737s on domestic, trans-Tasman and Pacific routes, meaning there could be flexibility for the airline to redeploy airplanes elsewhere.
AirAsia X (ASX) named Chew Eng Loke as (CFO).
November 2014: News Item A-1: Malaysian long-haul, low-cost carrier (LCC) AirAsia X (ASX) reported a third-quarter net loss of -MYR211 million/-$62.7 million, reversing a profit of +MYR26.4 million in the year-ago period.
The AirAsia (ASW) Group affiliate said that (although an excess of capacity and some softening in demand in its home market were continuing to have a negative effect on the bottom line) (ASX) was also seeing a slight improvement in yields and healthy growth in passenger numbers. In addition, a general capacity slowdown in the region could lead to a much healthier fourth quarter.
Although revenue for the quarter ended September 30, 2014 was up +16% to MYR698.76, operating expenses were considerably higher year-over-year, up +43% to MYR842.53 million. As a result, the operating loss for the quarter was -MYR140 million, reversing a profit of +MYR24.95 million in the year-ago quarter.
Passenger numbers were up +23.8% to just over >1 million in the third quarter, with (RPK)s increasing +21.3% to 5.13 billion. (ASK)s were up +23.9% to 6.36 million year-over-year. (ASK) capacity is expected to taper off in subsequent quarters to allow previously added capacity to mature and turn profitable. Load factor was down -1.7% points to 80.6% LF, but (ASX) said yield had moved into positive territory since September.
AirAsia X (ASX) (CEO), Azran Osman-Rani said: “Our third-quarter financial performance was set back by the second shock suffered by the aviation industry in July and the resultant demand slowdown. However, we have seen the critical measure of year-on-year yield rebounding back into positive growth by September and October. With the observed rationalization of industry capacity and the significant drop in global fuel prices in recent weeks, we expect this positive momentum to contribute to a turnaround this current fourth quarter.”
The company plans to slow down airplane capacity growth by reducing planned airplane deliveries in 2015 from eight to six, with two planned sales. Deliveries in 2016 will be reduced from eight to four airplanes, and in 2017 from eight to five airplanes, with deferrals to neo models from 2018 onward.
“The growth strategy for 2015 will shift to a consolidation phase, where no new airplane capacity to be allocated to core routes in Malaysia’s network in 2015, although (ASK) capacity is expected to increase by +5% vs 2014 due to the 12-month effect of capacity introduced mid-2014,” Azran said. “Capacity allocation in 2015 will see a drop in the number of flights to Australia, while North Asia and other regions will see an increase in the number of flights.”
He said that operationally, AirAsia X (ASX) would continue to pursue “further unit cost reduction initiatives through greater operational consolidation and resource sharing with the rest of the AirAsia Group. We continue to work on maintaining our financial integrity and have implemented a number of key initiatives to deliver positive cash growth in 2014 and strengthen our liquidity position and balance sheet.”
He said these various cash raising initiatives would put the airline on track to complete the full year with positive free cash flow.
News Item A-2: AirAsia X (ASX) now offers non-stop flights from Kuala Lumpur (KUL) to both airports in Tokyo, following the launch on November 21st of a new four times weekly service to Tokyo Narita (NRT). The 5,403 km route will be flown by (ASX)’s A330-300s, and will compete with Malaysia Airlines (MAS)’ 10 weekly flights and Japan Airlines (JAL)’s daily service. (ASX) has been serving Tokyo Haneda since December 2010 and currently operates daily flights on that route.
News Item A-3: Long-haul, low-cost carrier (LCC) AirAsia X (ASX) said it is succeeding in keeping its airplanes relatively full despite weakening demand and a dramatic increase in capacity.
The Malaysia-based carrier said that maintaining a load factor above >80% LF for the third quarter is evidence of its efforts to “stimulate demand to fill up new capacity.” (ASX)’s load factor did slip compared to the same period last year, although it was not a big drop compared to the high rate of growth and “significantly softer market conditions.”
Capacity was up +24% year-on-year in the third quarter, with traffic rising at a slower rate of +21%. This resulted in load factor declining -1.7 points, from 82.3% LF to 80.6% LF.
While expansion has been rapid, (ASX) noted that it actually scaled back its capacity growth for the third quarter compared to its previous plans. Most of the increase was due to additions in prior quarters, since capacity was only up +2% from the second quarter of this year. This was attributed to the addition of a route to Xi’an, China, in July.
(ASX) said it selectively withdrew airplanes from scheduled services and redeployed them on charter and wet-lease operations in more profitable markets.
(ASX) took delivery of one more leased Airbus A330-300 during the third quarter, bringing its total to 24, compared to 17 at the same point last year. It now has 21 A330-300s, two A340-300s, and a single A330-200, which is due to exit the fleet by the end of the year.
(ASX) committed to 50 A330neos in July, becoming the launch airline customer for the re-engined wide body that was launched at the Farnborough Airshow..
(ASX) has warned that the slowdown in capacity growth will continue beyond the third quarter, to allow capacity added previously “to mature and progress towards profitability.”
December 2014: Low-cost carrier (LCC) AirAsia X (ASX) has placed a firm order for 55 Airbus A330neos, comprising 5 new airplanes and the firming of a previously announced commitment for 50 of the type at the Farnborough Airshow in July.
These airplanes have now been firmed and the order has been expanded to 55 of the new twinjets, which will start arriving from 2018.
“This latest deal with Airbus (EDS) will enable (ASX) to consolidate its growth rate in 2015 - 2017 before ramping up deliveries from 2018 onwards,” (ASX) Co-Founder & Director, Tony Fernandes said.
(ASX) has now ordered a total of 91 A330 family airplanes, making it Airbus (EDS)’ biggest customer for the type. This also marks the largest single A330neo order to date.
“The A330 has proven itself to be exactly the right airplane for our business model, combining low operating costs, long-range flying capability, and high levels of comfort. We are extremely excited about the even greater levels of efficiency that will come with the A330neo, which will play a key role in enabling (ASX) to maintain its position as the long-haul, low-cost leader,” Fernandes said.
The A330neo will be sole-source powered by a new Rolls-Royce (RRC) (Trent 7000) engine, a derivative of the (Trent 700).
January 2015: News Item A-1: AirAsia X (ASX) is suspending trading in its shares on January 30, due to what is expected to be the announcement of a new share rights offer.
The Malaysian stock exchange approved (ASX)’s suspension request, which will start at 9 am and conclude at 5 pm, “pending the release of a material announcement.” The expected share rights offer will reportedly be worth RM500 million/$138 million.
AirAsia X (ASX) has recorded 3 consecutive quarters of losses, but is expected to report an operating profit for the 4th quarter of 2014, according to (CEO) Azran Osman-Rani.
News Item A-2: AirAsia X (ASX) launched a regular nonstop service linking Chongqing and Kuala Lumpur on February 13, which became the 1st scheduled route between the 2 regions.
(ASX) offers 3x-weekly on the route, using 377-seat Airbus A330-300s with business (C) and economy (Y) class cabins. Every Monday, Wednesdays and Fridays, flight D7350 is scheduled to depart Kuala Lumpur at 6:00 pm and arrive in Chongqing at 10:20 pm, while the return flight D7351 will take off from Chongqing at 11:55 pm and reach Kuala Lumpur at 4:15 am the next day (all local time).
(ASX) becomes the only airline offering nonstop flights between Kuala Lumpur and Chongqing. Chongqing is (ASX)'s 6th destination in China, following Beijing, Chengdu, Hangzhou, Shanghai, and Xi'an.
News Item A-3: AirAsia X (ASX) appointed Datuk Kamarudin Meranun as Group (CEO) as part of an ongoing reorganization; Benyamin Bin Ismail was named acting (CEO) of AirAsia X Berhad.
AirAsia X (ASX), which recently replaced its (CEO) on the back of ongoing low profits, has submitted a rights issue to raise +MYR395 million/+$110 million in working capital.
(ASX) recently replaced previous (CEO) Azran Osman-Rani with Benyamin Ismail and appointed AirAsia (ASW) co-Founder, Datuk Kamarudin Meranun to oversee (ASX) group activities, including AirAsia X Berhad, AirAsia X Thailand and Indonesia AirAsia Extra.
The group originally said it was looking for an extra +$138 million, but has reduced the amount; (ASX) shares were suspended January 30 pending the filing on the Malaysian Bursa exchange.
(ASX) said it will put some $75 million toward “general working capital” with the remainder offsetting airplane lease and equipment repayments.
(ASX) recently confirmed an order for 55 Airbus A330neos, but has seen 2 years of poor results and will now focus “on the strengthening of its balance sheet and the maximization of its profitability” the new management said.
Group (CEO) Kamarudin said the new rights issue would help put the company on a “substantially better financial footing to ensure we bring back confidence to the market. I am truly confident in turning this company around and bringing it to profitable growth,” he said.
February 2015: News Item A-1: AirAsia X (ASX) has made Chongqing (CKG) its 6th destination in China with the introduction on February 13th of 4x-weekly flights from its Kuala Lumpur (KUL) hub. The 3,001 km route is not served by any other carrier and will be flown using (ASX)’s A330-300s. (ASX) already serves Beijing, Chengdu, Hangzhou, Shanghai, and Xi’an in China. Benyamin Ismail, new (CEO) said, “We are proud to be the first and only airline to offer direct service from Kuala Lumpur to Chongqing, the gateway to the Yangtze River. (ASX) carried a total of >3.6 million guests to date into/from various points in China, with an average passenger load factor of 82% LF and as a group carried a total of >12.3 million guests.
With a population of some 29 million (and a thriving heavy industry sector based on automotive, aviation, iron, steel and aluminum production) the city has a growing business and tourism sector.
The new route will see (ASX) using its fleet of Airbus A330-300s flying direct to Kuala Lumpur International Airport 2 (KLIA2) at Sepang, Malaysia.
The route is the first new schedule since a management shakeup displaced previous (CEO) Azman Osman-Rani, and saw Benyamin Ismail replace him with a mandate to “strengthen of the balance sheet and [concentrate on] the maximization of profitability.”
Ismail said the new route should enable Air Asia X (ASX) to strengthen its presence in China and boost passenger traffic growth with links into its parent (ASEAN) network through AirAsia (ASW) and its subsidiaries.
News Item A-2: AirAsia X (ASX) is applying for USA traffic rights in order to serve Hawaii the founder and (CEO) of the AirAsia Group, Tony Fernandes, has said. Commenting on social media about the Group's long haul plans, Fernandes added that a resumption of flights to Europe is also on the cards.
"(ASX) is closing in on European routes including London and also application process starting to Hawaii," he said via Twitter.
Other long haul destinations being studied include New Zealand via Australia, while service to the Maldives will also proceed "as promised."
Last year, Fernandes said he was determined to see AirAsia X (ASX) return to Europe at some point in the near future. Among the budget carrier group's options would be to use its Thai AirAsia X ((IATA) Code: XJ, based at Bangkok Don Mueang) (THX) subsidiary to reopen flights to Paris Orly and London, which were terminated in 2011 as a result of their poor financial performance.
However, exact time frames for its international expansion may be put on hold after (ASX)'s acting (CEO) Benyamin Ismail, announced a series of cutbacks including route and staff rationalization as well as the deferral of some airplane deliveries to help turn the loss-making carrier around. (ASX) is also considering selling off airplane delivery slots should the right buyers be found.
"If there are reasonable and keen buyers for those airplanes, we may sell the slots," the "Business Insider" magazine quoted Ismail as saying.
(ASX) has orders for 23 A330-300s, 10 A350-900s, and 55 A330-900neos.
Following a boardroom reshuffle late last month, (ASX) announced plans to raise up to MYR395 million/USD108.7 million via a rights issue due in the next quarter of this year. Of the proceeds raised, MYR119 million/USD32.7 million would go towards the repayment of borrowings, while MYR270 million/USD74.3 million would be put towards general working capital for (ASX) and its Indonesia AirAsia X ((IATA) Code: XT, based at Denpasar), and Thai AirAsia X (THX) subsidiaries.
News Item A-3: Air Asia X (ASX) named Cheok Huei Shian as its new (CFO).
News Item A-4: Air Asia X (ASX) currently operates 23 airplanes to 9 countries, to 22 destinations, on 22 routes, and 45 daily flights.
April 2015: AirAsia X (ASX) is following through on its previous signals that Hawaii and Europe routes will be added to its network as part of its new business plan.
May 2015: Despite route cuts and lower frequencies, Malaysia-based long-haul low cost-carrier (LCC) AirAsia X (ASX) saw its load factors drop to 74% LF in the 1st quarter of 2015 from 86% LF in the 1st quarter of 2014.
"Profitability in 2014 was affected mainly by tragic aviation incidents, an irrational price war and overcapacity,” said AirAsia X (ASX) Group (CEO) Datuk Kamaruddin Meranun, who said that current bookings are in line with expectations for a recovery "in the 2nd half of 2015."
Partly as a result of the cancellation of recently introduced routes to Nagoya, Japan, and Adelaide, Australia, (ASX) also saw passenger numbers drop, from 1.08 million in the 1st 3 months of last year compared to only 915,000 in the corresponding quarter this year.
Meranun said the last 12 months had been “a challenging and extraordinary year," for (ASX).
With the recent arrival of 2 of (ASX)'s new Airbus A330-300s, (AAX) now has 25 A330-300s on its books, compared to only 19 last year, despite the lower passenger numbers. Meranun said the extra capacity would be used for short-term wet leases and charter operations.
The 1 bright spot for the (AAX) Group was Thai AirAsia X (THX), which notched up load factors of 82% LF for 1st quarter (Q1) 2015, with 155,961 passengers carried on routes between Thailand, Japan, and South Korea.
(ASX) says it plans to introduce more integration with partners in 2015 and to "consolidate initiatives needed to address the company’s internal inefficiencies."
“Since taking the helm as Group (CEO) of AirAsia X, [we] are optimistic that improvements that have kicked in during the 2nd half of the year will lead to a better financial footing in Fiscal Year (FY) 2015," said Meranun.
June 2015: The USA Department of Transportation (DOT) has awarded AirAsia X (ASX) a Foreign Air Carrier Permit as well as Route Exemption ahead of its planned launch of flights to the USA later this year.
As such, the AirAsia (ASW) subsidary is now free to engage in scheduled and charter flights transporting persons, property, and mail from any points behind Malaysia via Malaysia and intermediate points, to any point or points in the United States and beyond.
The long haul low cost carrier (LCC) announced earlier this year that effective November 1, it intends to operate a 4x-weekly service from Kuala Lumpur International to Honolulu via Osaka Kansai, Japan using A330-300s.
(ASX) currently operates 21 aircraft to 19 countries, 22 destinations, 20 routes on 38 daily flights.
A330-343 (1048, 9M-XXC) leased to Air Algerie (ALG).
August 2015: News Item A-1: AirAsia X (ASX) reported a 2015 2nd-quarter net loss of -MYR133 million/-$35.2 million. (ASX) partly attributed the losses partly to a foreign exchange (Forex) loss of -MYR28 million, compared to a Forex gain of +MYR20 million in the year-ago quarter.
(ASX) said the Malaysian ringgit (MYR) had depreciated -13% year-on-year against the US dollar in (2Q) 2015. It pointed out that every MYR0.10 movement in the exchange rate resulted in either savings or expenses of approximately MYR50 million per annum for the company.
2nd-quarter revenue was down -3% year-on-year to MYR653 million, largely due to a -16% drop in scheduled flight revenue and a -24% decline in ancillary revenues. This was caused by the lower load factor resulting from a hiatus in marketing activities, the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) outbreak in Korea, and the massive earthquake in Nepal.
The number of passengers carried in the 2nd quarter was down -20% to 810,944, while capacity (ASK)s decreased -9% to 5.7 billion. (RPK)s fell -23% to 3.9 billion and load factor was down -12% points to 68% LF.
However, revenue per (ASK) (RASK) increased +7% in the 2nd quarter, while unit cost per (ASK) (CASK) increased +5%, helping AirAsia X (ASX) reduce its operating loss by -14% to MYR100 million from RM116 million in the year-ago period. Much of that improvement can be attributed to lower operating expenses, and particularly to a -44% year-on-year decline in fuel costs. However, this was offset by increased aircraft rental and maintenance costs for an additional eight aircraft leased since (2Q) 2014.
(ASX) said that, in an effort to reduce the foreign exchange impact, it would be intensifying sales in markets where the currency was stronger, such as the Australian dollar, to offset USA dollar bills.
AirAsia X (ASX) Group (CEO) Datuk Kamaruddin Meranun said (ASX) had “expected to see some setback” in the 1st half of the year as marketing activities were halted, but this had been compounded by “unforeseen external factors,” such as the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) red alert and the Nepal earthquake. In addition, there were also “remnants of irrational competition during the quarter,” he said.
“We’ve seen a return of business in the 3rd quarter onward, as forward bookings for the 2nd half are promising,” Meranun said. “We are optimistic of reaching a turnaround this year as we’ve set ourselves the task of getting (ASX) to a better financial footing.”
(ASX) associate Thailand AirAsia X (TAAX) (THX) reported a 72% LF load factor, hit by the (MERS) outbreak in Korea and (ICAO)’s red flag warnings about aviation safety oversight in Thailand.
Despite these “temporary hiccups,” Meranun said “(TAAX) continues to see positive forward sales.”
He said Indonesia AirAsia X (IAAX) was “expanding steadily and is on track for turnaround in 2016.”
AirAsia X (ASX) Acting (CEO) Benyamin Ismail said: “We were operating in a challenging environment both internally and externally in the 1st half of the year and it was some of the toughest conditions (ASX) has ever seen. We have been working diligently for the past months and it’s starting to show positive outcome with promising forward booking trends. The company’s yields continue to look positive for the 2nd half as excessive capacity has been consolidated industry-wide, allowing us to compete in a much rationalized environment.”
News Item A-2: Malaysia-based long-haul, low-cost carrier (LCC) AirAsia X (ASX) has provisionally reported a 2nd-quarter -20% drop in passenger numbers year-over-year. It also expects a -12% drop in average load factor.
(ASX) carried 811,000 passengers from April - June this year, down from just >1 million in the year-ago period. This was despite a trim in passenger capacity to 1.21 million available seats from 1.26 million seats a year ago.
(ASX) partly blamed “continuous irrational competition” from Malaysia Airlines (MAS) as well as the Korean Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) outbreak, fallout from AirAsia (ASW)’s QZ8501 fatal crash, and brand damage from (ASX)’s premature Bali - Melbourne schedule launch.
The slump in passenger numbers resulted in load factors of 68% LF in the 2nd quarter, down -12 points from 80% LF in the year-ago quarter.
2nd-quarter (RPK)s were 3.9 billion, down -23% year-over-year.
During the reported period, (ASX) increased its group fleet from 20 to 26 Airbus A330-300s, but said it had used some excess capacity for short-term wet lease and charter operations to prop up dollar revenues.
(ASX)’s poor figures come as warnings of overcapacity in the SE Asian market gain traction, illustrated with cutbacks by some (LCC) carriers such as Lion Air (MLI) and Jetstar (IMU).
However, (ASX) said it expects a return to normal business from the third quarter as its “positive brand image” is reinstated in Australia, adding that advance bookings are in line with expectations to override the setbacks of the first half of 2015.
News Item A-3: AirAsia X (ASX) is deferring or cutting deliveries of Airbus A330ceo wide bodies, as it looks to curb growth and strengthen its financial performance.
October 2015: AirAsia X (ASX) on October 1 commenced service between Kuala Lumpur (KUL) and Sapporo Chitose (CTS) in Japan. The 5,952 km route will be served by (ASX)'s A330-300s 4x-weekly, departing Kuala Lumpur on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays at 23:35 and arriving in Japan at 08:10 the following morning. Return flights depart New Chitose International Airport at 09:20, arriving back in KUL at 17:00. This is (ASX)'s 3rd route to Japan, as it already serves Osaka Kansai and Tokyo Haneda.
November 2015: AirAsia X (ASX) has reported a 2015 3rd-quarter net loss of -RM288 million/-$64.4 million, deepened from a -RM210 million loss in the year-ago period.
(ASX) (CEO) Benyamin Ismail said the results were due primarily to a slump in exchange rates for the Malaysian ringgit. “The USD:MYR depreciation of -36% year-on-year has caused us a substantial forex loss of -RM241 million in (3Q) 2015,” he said.
3rd-quarter revenue rose +13% to RM793 million, while expenses lowered -1.8% to produce an operating loss of -RM31 million, down -78% from a -RM140 million operating loss in the prior-year quarter.
Preliminary figures indicate traffic fell -16% to 4.33 billion (RPK)s year-on-year, on a -9% decrease in capacity to 5.77 billion (ASK)s, producing a load factor of 75% LF, down -5.6 points compared to the same quarter in 2014. Total passengers carried fell from 1.04 million to 902,000 over the corresponding period, alongside a corresponding expansion in fleet size from 24 to 26 aircraft.
(ASX) said yields as measured by (RASK)s rose +25% year-on-year, primarily due to an improved average base fare, up +15% year-over-year.
Ismail said the carrier was focused on balancing the supply and demand of each of its separate markets, and has adjusted capacity and terminated less profitable routes. “Moving forward, we will be launching initiatives such as value bundle pack [and] dynamic baggage pricing,” Ismail said. “Currency translation remained a key concern moving forward and we have begun efforts to mitigate the increasing dollar denominated cost.”
January 2016: News Item A-1: "AirAsia X (ASX) Restarts Flights to India" by (ATW) Jeremy Torr, January 20, 2016.
Malaysian long-haul, low-cost carrier AirAsia X (ASX) plans to restart Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) - Indira Gandhi International (DEL) service from February 3. It will fly a 4x-weekly service using Airbus A330-300 aircraft.
(ASX) cut its previous (KLIA) - (DEL) service in March 2012, just 2 years after launching the route, citing high operational costs for the pull-out.
An AirAsia X (ASX) spokesperson said (ASX) is looking to expand further into Indian destinations. “Amritsar and Ahmedabad are still part of our plan, but we have not set a date for any services [to those destinations] yet,” he said. The company added it is “in the midst of evaluating flying to other routes in India,” but is focusing on the launch of the inaugural Delhi route.
At the time of the route cuts in 2012, then-(ASX) (CEO) Azran Osman Rani said that both slow take-up and “exorbitant” government taxes had contributed to make its (KLIA) - (DEL) and (KLIA) - Mumbai routes un-economical.
However, with lower oil prices and a restructured airport tax regime in India, the company has decided to take another look at the Indian market.
Additionally, the Indian Airport Economic Regulatory Authority has indicated it will push for a further reduction in overall airport taxes paid by carriers and passengers at Indian airports in the upcoming 2016 - 2019 control period.
Local AirAsia (ASW) domestic subsidiary, AirAsia India (AAI), has also indicated it will expand India operations, with the opening of its 2nd hub in Delhi earlier this year and an extension of its Maintenance Repair & Overhaul (MRO) facility in Chennai.
News Item A-2: Airbus’ popular A330 family converted an order from AirAsia X (ASX) for 11 A330-900 aircraft in the A330neo series.
February 2016: News Item A-1: "Fewer Passengers flew on AirAsia X Last Year" by Business News, February 15, 2016.
AirAsia X Bhd (ASX), the long-haul, low-cost airline affiliate of the AirAsia group, carried 3.61 million passengers last year, -14.6% fewer compared to the preceding year.
It said that the 2015 financial year (FY) 2015) was a challenging year, as the group was set back by “irrational competition from industry peers, currency volatility, regulatory uncertainties for Thailand and Indonesia, as well as a series of unforeseen circumstances.”
(ASX)’s performance was a contrast to AirAsia Bhd’s. The latter reported a +11.2% growth in passengers carried at group level (to 50.68 million) and a +9.6% growth for AirAsia (ASW) (to 24.25 million) in 2015. (see AirAsia group carried +11% more passengers in 2015).
Passenger load factor fell -7% points (ppt) to 75% LF for the year, but for the 4th quarter (Q4), load factor improved +2% ppt year-on-year to 83% LF. This was despite higher average base fare as compared to (Q4) 2014.
“This positive achievement was driven by aggressive marketing activities, enhanced Fly-Thru connectivity in (FY) 2015, and the returned traffic after the challenging market conditions in 2014 - (H1) 2015. However, further improvement was hindered by slower-than-expected recovery of Kathmandu’s operations after the massive Nepal earthquake,” (ASX) said.
(ASX) said Thai AirAsia X (recorded a healthy passenger load factor of 83% LF in (Q4) 2015 during the year-end peak, while Indonesia AirAsia X’s overall operating performance registered a consistent trend in the quarter.
The number of flights flown, meanwhile, dipped -4.6% to 13,033 in 2015.
“Moving forward into 2016, AirAsia X (ASX) remains vigilant and continues to explore strategic initiatives to ensure sustainable growth,” (AAX) said.
(AAX) shares inched up half a sen to close at 25 sen, with 27.048 million shares being traded.
News Item A-2: AirAsia X (ASX) returned to Delhi (DEL) on February 3 with the resumption of flights from Kuala Lumpur (KUL). The long-haul low cost carrier (LCC) serves the 3,874 km route 4x-weekly with its A330-300s and face direct competition from Malindo Air (MXD) (10x-weekly flights) and Malaysia Airlines (MAS) (daily flights). AirAsia X (ASX) had previously served this route between August 2010 and March 2012. This summer, (ASX) will serve a total of 17 destinations non-stop from Kuala Lumpur, the same as last summer. While Colombo and Tokyo Narita have been dropped, Sapporo/Chitose and now Delhi have been added. Since (ASX)’s launch in November 2007, it has launched services to 32 destinations of which 15 have subsequently been dropped.
January 2017: AirAsia X (ASX) has been granted final approval to begin operating to the USA, likely opening the way for (ASX) the Malaysia-based low-cost carrier (LCC) to launch Hawaii flights. (ASX) stressed the clearances from USA regulators allow it to “operate to any destination” there. AirAsia X (ASX) said it is “currently considering flights to several USA states, including Hawaii, as part of its route expansion plans.”
February 2017: The AirAsia X (AAX) Group reported a significant decline in 4th-quarter profits, although this was not enough to prevent an impressive turnaround in its full-year 2016 results. The Malaysia-based long-haul low-cost carrier (LCC) achieved a net profit of +MYR39 million/+$8.8 million in the 4th quarter, down from +MYR197.4 million in the same period in 2015. (AAX) said the drop was mainly because of unfavorable movement in foreign exchange rates.
April 2017: Boeing Digital Aviation subsidiary Jeppesen has signed with the AirAsia Group to provide digital charting and electronic flight bag (EFB) services across AirAsia (ASW)’s 6 low-cost carrier (LCC) affiliates.
The multiple-year agreement will cover AirAsia (ASW)’s 6 affiliate (LCC) airlines: AirAsia Berhad (Malaysia) (ASW), Thai AirAsia (THA), AirAsia India (AAI), AirAsia Japan (WAJ), Indonesia AirAsia (AWR) and Philippines AirAsia (APG). The AirAsia Group will integrate Jeppesen FlightDeck Pro (EFB) services on Windows-operating tablets to optimize operations, eliminate paper content and improve fuel consumption, the company said.
The agreement with the AirAsia Group follows on Jeppesen’s existing (EFB) service agreement with another of the group’s affiliates, long-haul (LCC) AirAsia X (ASX).
“We had previous experience with digital Jeppesen services with our AirAsia X (ASX) affiliates and extend[ing] these digital navigation and (EFB) services across the AirAsia Group will allow us to continue our transition to a fully digital operating environment,” AirAsia (ASW) Regional Director Flight Operations Adrian Jenkins said.
May 2017: AirAsia X Indonesia (AXW) on May 19 introduced daily flights from Denpasar (DPS) on the Indonesian island of Bali to Mumbai (BOM) in India via Kuala Lumpur (KUL) in Malaysia. The 3,621 km sector between Malaysia and India is already served by Malaysia Airlines (MAS) (2x-daily) and Malindo Air (MXD) (8x-weekly). (AXW) will operate the route using its 377-seat A330-300s of which it currently has 2. AirAsia X Indonesia (AXW) (CEO), Captain Sulistyo Nugroho Hanung said, “(AXW) is pleased to offer guests on this new daily flight between Mumbai and Bali, Indonesia. We are so delighted to offer free seats on this route and hope that many will take advantage of this opportunity to travel to our beautiful island destination. We see this route as promising, as it opens connectivity for India’s population of one billion people to their dream holiday destination.”
June 2017: AirAsia X (ASX) has flown its 1st service to the USA. On June 28, flight D7 001 took off from Kuala Lumpur (KUL) heading for Honolulu (HNL) in Hawaii, stopping off en-route at Osaka Kansai (KIX). The new service will be flown 4x-weekly by (ASX)’s A330-300s. Competition exists on the sector between Osaka and Hawaii with Delta Air Lines (DAL), Hawaiian Airlines (HWI) and Japan Airlines (JAL) all operating daily flights on the 6,611 km route. The inaugural service had a load factor of >90% LF. (ASX) Chairperson, Tan Sri Rafidah Aziz, said: “We are here to democratise air travel for everyone, so flying long-haul would no longer be a luxury only a few could enjoy.
This landmark route to Hawaii is a bold new chapter in that quest to help more people travel further for less. But this is just the beginning, and soon our guests will be able to enjoy flights to even more destinations in the USA as we continue to grow our international footprint.”
July 2017: AirAsia X (ASX) has flown its 1st service to the USA. On June 28 flight D7 001 took off from Kuala Lumpur (KUL) heading for Honolulu (HNL) in Hawaii, stopping off en-route at Osaka Kansai (KIX). The new service will be flown 4x-weekly by (ASX)’s A330-300s. Competition exists on the sector between Osaka and Hawaii with Delta Air Lines (DAL), Hawaiian Airlines (HWI) and Japan Airlines (JAL)/(JSI) all operating daily flights on the 6,611 km route. The inaugural service had a load factor of >90% LF. (ASX) Chairperson, Tan Sri Rafidah Aziz, said: “We are here to democratise air travel for everyone, so flying long-haul would no longer be a luxury only a few could enjoy. This landmark route to Hawaii is a bold new chapter in that quest to help more people travel further for less. But this is just the beginning, and soon our guests will be able to enjoy flights to even more destinations in the USA as we continue to grow our international footprint.”
August 2017: Long-haul low cost carrier (LCC) AirAsia X (ASX) achieved strong growth in its 2nd-quarter profit, as it managed to spur healthy demand despite significant capacity expansion.
(ASX) reported a net profit of +MYR47.4 million/+$11 million for the June quarter, up from just >MYR1 million in the same period a year earlier. Revenue was up +17% to MYR1 billion, with the rate of increase >26% capacity gain.
(ASX) is looking to increase frequencies on its most popular routes and expand into markets such as Hawaii. (ASX)’s 4x-weekly service from Kuala Lumpur to Honolulu via Osaka, Japan, began June 28 operating the Airbus A330. “Hawaii is very under-served from Asia,” (ASX) (CEO) Benyamin Ismail said. “Everyone names it in their top 5 places that they want to go.
October 2017: "AirAsia X Could Swap Entire 66-Jet Airbus A330Neo Order to A350s" by Christopher Jasper & Benjamin D Katz, Bloomberg News, October 10, 2017.
AirAsia X (ASX), the long-haul arm of the region's biggest budget carrier, is looking at swapping an order for 66 Airbus (EDS) A330neo wide body jets to larger A350s in a bid to boost capacity on its busiest routes.
A review of (ASX)'s fleet requirements is underway and could result in a plan to trade up to the bigger wide body, Tony Fernandes, (CEO) of the AirAsia group, said, adding that the Boeing Company (TBC) 787 Dreamliner will also be considered.
(ASX) will remain focused on routes within 4 to 8 hours' flying time and would deploy the A350s on those services, just as it had aimed to do with the A330s, Fernandes said, adding that a switch wouldn't indicate a revival of plans to serve Europe. For Airbus (EDS), an order would shrink the 212-plane A330neo backlog while bolstering an A350 program that has itself suffered recent setbacks. "Over the last 10 years we've been tweaking the model," the (CEO) said. "Now that we kind of know what we want to do, we're looking at the fleet. We're toying with the A350. If we went A350, we wouldn't use the A330neo anymore, we'd go all A350."
(ASX) currently has 10 A350-900s on order alongside the larger A330neo commitment, while its existing fleet is comprised of 30 current-generation A330s. The Boeing 787 "looks interesting as well," Fernandes said.
The move would mark an about face from previous plans. In 2015, (ASX) began looking at flipping the 10 A350s due for delivery from 2021 to A330neos, with the unit's Chief Benyamin Ismail saying the smaller jet was cheaper and just as economical.
While an order rethink could be lucrative for (EDS), with the A350-900 having a sticker price of US$311.2 million versus US$290.6 million for the A330neo, the switch would come as a complication given (ASX)'s status as a launch customer for the aircraft.
Fernandes said the 1st jet is due in December 2018, though the date is "slipping" after already being put back amid development issues with Rolls-Royce Holdings Plc's Trent 7000 engine. The company will send representatives to the model's 1st flight, scheduled for Oct. 18 in Toulouse, he said.
AirAsia X is also exploring the business case for adding Airbus A321neos to serve routes to India and China that might not support bigger planes, Fernandes said. The main AirAsia short-haul operation already has orders for >400 upgraded Airbus (EDS) narrow bodies, including 100 A321 variants.
Commencing heavily discounted flights to Europe is unattractive right now, given the amount of capacity already deployed, the (CEO) said. "When we come into a market we've got to make sure we can really bring fares down, we don't think we can," he said, adding that serving the USA from Japan could be a more interesting market, with an Osaka to Honolulu route doing "very well."
Fernandes said plans to sell (ASX)'s Asia Aviation Capital Ltd aircraft leasing arm, should come to fruition before the end of this year, with (ASX) focused on 2 or 3 bidders from around the world.
Click below for photos:
ASX-A320 - 2017-08.jpg
ASX-A330-300 - 2014-08
ASX-A330-300 - 2015-02.jpg
ASX-A330neo - 2014-12
1 +2/2 ORDERS (2014-11) A330-200 (CF6-80E1), 24 PREMIUM FLATBEDS; 264Y:
3 A330-301 (CF6-80E1A2) (054, /94 9M-XAA "SEMANGAT SIR FREDDIE" - SEE PHOTO), EX-(AMD)/(ALG)/(ARL), (EC-JMF), (AWW) LSD 2007-09, WORLD PLANE COLORS. 28C, 355Y.
11 A330-343 (TRENT 772B-60) (952, /08 9M-XXA "XHILIRATION!" 974, 9M-XXB "XUBERANCE!;" 1048, /09 9M-XXC "MIDNIGHT XCAPADE;" 1066, /09 9M-XXD "SOARING XPECTATIONS; 1075, /09 9M-XXE "PIONEERING XPEDITION;" 1126, /10 9M-XXF "NORTHERN XPOSURE;" 1131, /10 9M-XXG "SOTHERN XROSS;" 1165, /10 9M-XXH; 1411, 9M-XXI "XAKURA BLOSSOM" 2013-07; 1433, 9M-XXK, 2013-07; 1548, 9M-XXT "XCINTILLATING PHOENIX" 2014-08 - - SEE PHOTO - - "ASX-2014-08 - 21ST A330-343"), 1048, LST AIR ALGERIE (ALG) 2015-06. 12C (12 PREMIUM FLATBEDS), 365Y.
40 ORDERS A330-300 (CF6-80E1), 12C (12 PREMIUM FLATBEDS), 365Y.
7 +5 ORDERS A330-343E (TRENT 772B-60) (1423, 9M-XXJ), EX-(F-WWTY), (ILF) LSD (2013-05), 12C (12 PREMIUM FLATBEDS), 365Y.
11 ORDERS (2018-02) A330-900neo (TRENT 7000):
2 A340-313 (CFM56-5C4) (273, /99 9M-XAB "XCALIBUR" 2009-02; 278, /99 9M-XAC "XCELLENCE" 2009-06 OAKLAND RAIDERS COLORS - - SEE PHOTOS - - "ASX-A340-313X-2009-07-A/B/C"), (ACN) LSD. 273; 278; WET-LST (ALG) & (SVA). 18C, 309Y.
10/5 ORDERS (2016-08) A350-900XWB (TRENT XWB-83), TWO CLASS, >400 PAX:
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ASX-1-AZRAN OSMAN RANI CEO-2008-09-A
ASX-1-AZRAN OSMAN RANI CEO-2008-09-B
ASX-1-AZRAN OSMAN RANI CEO-2008-09-C
ASX-1-BENYAMIN ISMAIL - 2015-02
TONY FERNANDES, AIR ASIA GROUP CHAIRMAN & CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER (CEO).
TAN SRI' RAFIDAH AZIZ, CHAIRMAN AIRASIA X (ASX).
KALIMULLAH HASSAN, (ASX) CHAIRMAN.
DATUK KAMARUDDIN MERANUN, (ASW) CO-FOUNDER, & GROUP (CEO) AIRASIA X (ASX) (2015-01).
BENYAMIN BIN ISMAIL, (CEO) AIRASIA X (ASX) BERHAD (2015-01).
CAPTAIN SULISTO NUGROHO HANUNG, (CEO) AIRASIA X INDONESIA (AXW).
CHEOK HUEI SHIAN, CHIEF FINANCIAL OFFICER (CFO) (2015-02).
AZHANUDIN SHAH, HEAD OF FLIGHT OPERATIONS.
BERNARD FRANCIS, COMMERCIAL DIRECTOR, EX-(AWR) (2014-05).
Bernard was previously Commercial Director for Indonesia AirAsia (AWR). He is responsible for AiAsia X (ASX)'s Commercial department, including Revenue Management, Sales & Distribution, Marketing, Communication & Events, Branding, Route & Network Planning and Ancillary Revenue.