AirAsia has carried 50 million passengers in a single year for the first time in its history.
The group’s portfolio of five short-haul carriers, based in Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, the Philippines and India, boarded a total of 50.68 million passengers in 2015, up 11% from the 45.58m it carried in 2014. Its total seat capacity increased 9% and its average aircraft load factor rose two percentage points to 80%.
Almost half of the total passengers (24.25m) were carried on Malaysia AirAsia’s flights, which marked a 10% year-on-year increase. The Kuala Lumpur-based unit ended the year strongly, launching three new routes in the final quarter, to the Maldives, Changsha and Colombo. The unit’s full-year load factors increased two points to 81%.
In Bangkok, Thai AirAsia’s passenger traffic jumped 22% to 14.85m passengers, while average load factors edged up one percentage point to 81%. The latter stages of the year were marked by a significant expansion from Pattaya’s U-Tapao Airport, which included the launch of direct flights to mainland China, Singapore and Macau, along with domestic routes to Udon Thani, Chiang Mai and Hat Yai.
Indonesia AirAsia boarded a total of 6.10m passengers last year, which marked a sharp 17% drop compared to 2014. Load factors also declined four points to 74%. As part of its turnaround plan, the loss-making unit transferred three aircraft to the group’s other carriers – two aircraft to Malaysia and one to India.
Manila-based Philippines AirAsia saw a 19% jump in traffic, to 3.59m passengers, and an 11 point surge in load factors, to 81%. And the group’s youngest unit, AirAsia India, more than quadrupled its passenger numbers to 1.46m. Load factors averaged 81%.
While not all airlines have released their full-year passenger traffic figures, AirAsia’s group total of 50m passengers would make it approximately the fifth largest airline in Asia Pacific, after mainland China’s “big three” carriers and Japan’s ANA.
At the end of 2015, AirAsia operated a fleet of 170 Airbus A320 aircraft, with outstanding orders for a further 300. And the airline will continue to expand in 2016, with plans to relaunch its Japanese low-cost carrier based in Nagoya.