AirAsia Says Q1 Load Factor Rises

March 30, 2010

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Asian budget carrier AirAsia is on track to achieve double-digit passenger growth this year as demand grew in the first-quarter from a year ago.

AirAsia's January-March load factor was higher than in the same period a year ago, said its regional head of treasury Aireen Omar.

"Based on the performance in the first-quarter, we believe we should be able to achieve our target of passenger growth of double digits this year," Aireen, a former investment banker, said.

She did not state the quantum of growth in the first quarter but said load factors averaged 75 percent in 2009.

Ancillary income, such as excess baggage handling, onboard food and beverage services, grew 46 percent last year and the segment will continue to see "good growth" this year, she said.

AirAsia, Airbus's biggest customer for the A320-200, will take delivery of 16 aircraft this year to replace its older Boeing 737s in Thailand and Indonesia, said the executive.

It will take delivery of another 89 new aircraft from 2011 to 2015, she said.

Last year, AirAsia pushed back the delivery schedule for some of its orders with Airbus after the airline industry was hit hard by the global financial crisis.

Aireen does not expect further rescheduling for now.

"Overcapacity is not a concern as we are seeing growth in our load factors. We don't see any adjustment required in the foreseeable future," she said.

(Reuters)