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Airline Finance News - Asia / Pacific.

Sep 24, 2007

Air travel is booming in China, fuelled by double-digit economic growth and growing outbound and inbound travel. But the country's airlines had bled losses for years, pummelled by climbing oil prices. Brokers said speculation had flared anew in the run-up to the October Communist Party congress that officials might choose to kick-start a long-expected sector overhaul, which some think would involve mergers or acquisitions. Analysts also speculated that Singapore Airlines' and Temasek's USD$918 million acquisition of a combined 24 percent stake in China Eastern, the first major foreign investment in a Chinese airline, would herald similar moves in coming years. But domestic airline executives have said repeatedly that industry regulators did not plan major restructurings for now. Sep 21, 2007

Asia's budget airlines are poised for huge growth, despite recent damaging crashes, as cheap fares and new planes lure millions of passengers who have more money to spend on travel and leisure. The latest budget airline disaster, a crash landing on the Thai resort island of Phuket this week killing 89 people, follows an Indonesian crash in January that raised safety fears for a cost-cutting sector facing high fuel prices and a shortage of pilots. But experts say maintenance standards are as strictly regulated for budget airlines as for mainstream carriers, while Asia is a global centre for outsourcing major repairs. Sep 20, 2007

Passenger traffic in Asia-Pacific climbed over 6 percent this year to July, with the region now accounting for 32 percent of the global market, according to industry body IATA. According to IATA forecasts, Asia passenger growth of nearly 6 percent in 2006-10 will comfortably beat total global growth of below 5 percent, though will lag the Middle East. Sep 20, 2007

There are plenty of cost strains on budget airlines and perceptions of poor service and safety may still put off some customers. One cost pressure is a shortage of trained pilots, leading to a bidding war even at major airlines where pilots are being poached, but harder to bear for budget carriers. China said this month it faces a shortfall of 2,000 pilots in the next few years. The Indonesian pilot on the ill-fated One-Two-Go flight tried to land despite being warned of windshear threats, a senior Thai aviation official has said. There are international rules on how often a pilot can fly, though rules on planes vary. Sep 20, 2007

Adam Air

Airline shares in the region have been hammered after the latest crash, and with jet fuel prices surging to record highs over USD$93 a barrel this week. But Adam Air said this month its passenger numbers have rebounded after slumping by a third. Indonesia, whose airlines are banned from European airspace due to safety concerns, issued a law in 2006 that new airlines must not use planes older than 20 years. It considered cutting this to 10 years after January's Adam Air crash that killed 102. The civil aviation department in Thailand, which relies on tourism for about 7 percent of its GDP, said it is not considering age limits for commercial airliners, and experts said other Asian governments are unlikely to follow Indonesia. Sep 20, 2007

AirAsia

AirAsia X's first 396-seat Airbus A330 is due to arrive in Kuala Lumpur Sept. 18 for the carrier's service launch later this month. The A330 will be the first of three leased by the long-haul LCC to arrive with another 10 on firm order to be delivered next year. Air Asia X initially will launch flights from Kuala Lumpur to Melbourne Avalon and London Stansted. Sep 18, 2007

AirAsia X

Malaysia's AirAsia owns a 20 percent stake in AirAsia X, as does Britain's Virgin Group, controlled by Branson. AirAsia said his budget carrier has already hedged 40 percent of its fuel needs at the moment. AirAsia's business has not been affected by Sunday's crash of a Thai budget airliner in the resort island of Phuket. In Malaysia, shares of AirAsia as well as state carrier Malaysia Airlines have slumped as oil prices touch record highs. US crude hit a new record on Tuesday above USD$81 per barrel on worries about rising demand amid tight world supplies heading into the winter heating oil season. Sep 18, 2007

AirAsia X, Airbus

AirAsia X, a Malaysian budget long haul carrier that counts British billionaire Richard Branson as a shareholder, is considering buying up to 25 Airbus A350 planes, the airline said on Sept. 18. AirAsia X, which will make its debut soon, has already ordered 25 A330-300 planes for flights from Malaysia to Australia and China. The need to plan ahead for new plane purchases is important given the long waiting time. Boeing's 787 planes could take as long as five years to deliver and the A350s could take up to seven years. Airasia X, which aims to fly 10 million passengers a year within five years, expects to list its shares on the Malaysian stock exchange by 2010. Sep 18, 2007

Cathay Pacific Airways

Cathay Pacific Airways shares stood 11 percent higher before the suspension, which was announced by the Hong Kong stock exchange. Cathay later said its stock would resume trading after it announced a transaction, without elaborating. Renewed talk of a looming restructuring again propelled Chinese airline stocks to record highs on Friday, with both China Southern Air and rival China Eastern rising up to 14 percent. Sep 21, 2007

Cathay Pacific Airways, Air China

Shares in Cathay Pacific Airways rose by 12 percent on Sept. 21 and Chinese carriers climbed in hopes that Beijing will soon start a wide-ranging overhaul of the ailing sector. Stock in Cathay, which owns more than 17 percent of Air China, jumped to a record high of HKD$23.05 before being suspended as investors bet it would benefit from an industry restructuring that newspapers and analysts say might see a merger or an acquisition among mainland Chinese carriers. Citigroup analysts Ally Ma and Corrine Png wrote that Air China -- whose stock gained the least among its rivals -- may try to derail Singapore Airlines' attempt to buy into China Eastern. That could benefit Cathay by blocking Singapore Air from grabbing market share on lucrative routes across the world's fourth-largest economy -- Hong Kong-based Cathay's backyard. Sep 21, 2007

China Southern, Air China

China Southern, the country's largest by fleet size, veered wildly in and out of negative territory on Friday but has gained 32 percent this week. Its Hong Kong-listed shares ended up nearly 8 percent. China Eastern closed 12.4 percent higher, taking its gains for the week to 51 percent. Shares in Air China rose 1.54 percent and have risen more than 80 percent in the past month. Li Lei, an analyst with China Securities, said Cathay's impending announcement could most likely centre on details involving the formal establishment of a cargo venture with Air China. He did not think it likely that Air China could kill the SIA deal. Sep 21, 2007

Lufthansa

Lufthansa To Expand US, Asia Flights. Lufthansa plans to offer 5.7 percent more seating capacity on its global flight network for the winter season, boosted by increases on US and Asian routes. Sep 21, 2007

Singapore Airlines

Singapore Airlines has reported another month of passenger and cargo load factor growth on a decline in passenger capacity and a controlled increase in freight capacity. The Star Alliance carrier says in a statement that passenger load factor improved to 81.6% last month from 79.7% in August last year, while cargo load factor improved to 62.2% from 61.5%. It says revenue passenger kilometres (RPKs) increased 2% last month while available seat kilometres (ASKs) decreased 0.3%. The number of passengers carried increased 5.1% to 1.62 million. Freight traffic in terms of tonne kilometres increased 5.3% while capacity increased 4.1%. The amount of freight carried increased 6.1% to 110,500t. SIA[sup.1]s passenger load factor in particular has been rising in recent months as demand has remained strong Sep 19, 2007

ZZ

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Comment:Airline Finance News - Asia / Pacific.
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Date:Sep 24, 2007
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