Carriers upbeat on recovery prospects Airlines anticipate increase in flights servicing China to be a significant driver


Airlines are optimistic about recovery this year, with an expansion of services to China being a key driver, following a significant improvement in 2022, particularly during the fourth quarter.

Santisuk Klongchaiya, chief executive of SET-listed Asia Aviation (AAV) and Thai AirAsia (TAA), said after resuming China routes in January this year, the airline expects to regain 28% of pre-Covid-pandemic capacity to the mainland within the first quarter. The company plans to ramp up services to China to 40 flights per week this quarter.

TAA has already resumed flights to Guangzhou, Chongqing, Shenzhen, Kunming, Hangzhou, Nanjing
and Changsha.

By the end of this year, TAA aims to increase services to China to 110 flights per week, getting closer to the 140 flights per week recorded in 2019.

Of 53 aircraft in its fleet, he said TAA plans to start operating 45 jets in the first quarter, gradually increasing capacity to 48 and then 50 aircraft in the second and third quarters, respectively.
Full utilisation of the entire fleet is projected by the final quarter, said Mr Santisuk.

The passenger target for this year is 20 million, double the tally of 9.95 million recorded in 2022 and closer to the 22.2 million passengers registered in 2019.

He said the projections are based in part on positive momentum from the fourth quarter of 2022, when the airline posted revenue of 12.5 billion baht, a surge of 481% year-on-year, with 4.06 million passengers. This increase was mainly attributed to pent-up demand.

The fourth quarter last year was the first time in 11 quarters that AAV secured positive earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation, totalling 1.62 billion baht.

The company posted a net loss of 8.2 billion baht for 2022, attributed to currency exchange and derivative losses. This was an improvement upon the net loss of 11.9 billion baht recorded in 2021.

Meanwhile, Bangkok Airways Plc reported stronger passenger numbers in 2022, with 2.7 million people on its 29,892 flights, representing increases of 395% and 244%, respectively, year-on-year.

The airline returned 3.4 million seats into service, reaching 40.4% of its pre-pandemic capacity, which helped improve total revenue to 7 billion baht, growing 125% year-on-year.

Though the firm reported an operating loss of 889 million baht, it was 64.9% lower than the loss recorded in 2021.

Bangkok Airways estimates China’s reopening will create a positive impact for the aviation industry this year, as border reopenings in many other countries help secure rapid growth last year.

Source: Bangkok Post


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