Jetstar Asia set to launch three new routes later this year; 18 aircraft fleet makes it Singapore Changi’s fourth biggest airline
Jetstar Asia was launched in December 2004 as a joint venture by Australia’s Qantas and local business interests. The Singapore-based LCC complemented the airline’s Australian-based LCC Jetstar Airways. However, over the course of almost 11 years the airline has grown modestly and currently operates just 18 180-seat A320s from Changi Airport, with the most recent aircraft to join the fleet arriving in August and October of 2013, over two years ago. This still makes it the airport’s fourth biggest airline in terms of weekly seat capacity, and the biggest that is not affiliated with Singapore Airlines.
Annual seat capacity growth has been steady rather than spectacular since the airline’s launch. This year’s apparent 20% increase is somewhat misleading. Between 2005 and late 2014, Jetstar Asia operated flights to four destinations in Indonesia on behalf of Valuair. The airlines had merged in 2005 but because of a dispute between Indonesian and Singaporean aviation officials, which prohibited the launch of new LCC services between the two countries, Jetstar Asia continued operating these flights under Valuair’s VF code.
At the end of last year, Jetstar Asia was finally allowed to operate these flights under its own code and the Valuair brand was retired. Combined with a focus on improved aircraft utilisation this year, seat capacity for Jetstar Asia has therefore grown significantly. However, it is worth noting that in Qantas’ annual report for the period year-ending 30 June 2015, Jetstar Asia’s passenger numbers were 3.97 million, down 0.2% on the previous 12 month period. However, ASKs (Available Seat Kilometres) were up almost 7% and RPKs (Revenue Passenger Kilometres) were up almost 6% resulting in a drop in the annual load factor of 0.6 percentage points from 78.4% to 77.8%. Financially, Qantas merely reported that the airline had returned to profit based on underlying EBIT.
36 non-stop routes tried from Singapore
The airline’s first routes in December 2004 were to Hong Kong, Taipei and Utapao in Thailand. Since then it has added non-stop routes to 33 more destinations across Asia, though not all have been successful. In addition, Jetstar Asia has started serving two destinations in Japan via an intermediate stop; Fukuoka via Bangkok, and Osaka Kansai via Taipei and Manila.
The number of routes operated at any given time reached a new high of 23 this summer thanks to taking over the four Indonesian routes last October. This winter will see the airline start three additional routes; to Da Nang in Vietnam (from 27 November), Palembang in Indonesia (from 3 December) and Pekanbaru in Indonesia (from 10 December).
A total of 13 destinations have been tried from Singapore and subsequently suspended; Auckland, Beijing, Bengaluru, Guangzhou, Guilin, Hanoi, Kolkata, Kota Kinabalu, Kuching, Macau, Nanning, Ningbo and Utapao. Out of eight routes to China only three are still operating today; Haikou, Hangzhou and Shantou.
Perth and Bangkok are leading routes by ASKs
Analysing the airline’s current network reveals that the two biggest routes as measured by ASKs (which takes into account both sector length and frequency) are Perth in Australia and Bangkok in Thailand. These two routes are well ahead of the next trio of Hong Kong, Taipei and Manila.
Jetstar Asia faces considerable competition on many of its routes. The following table summarises the number of other carriers competing head-to-head on the airline’s 20 non-stop routes from Singapore this November. On half of the routes, Jetstar Asia faces at least four other airlines in head-to-head competition. Only the airline’s route to Shantou in China is uncontested.
|Competing carriers||Route (code)|
|7||Denpasar (DPS), Kuala Lumpur (KUL)|
|6||Jakarta (CGK), Taipei (TPE)|
|5||Ho Chi Minh City (SGN), Hong Kong (HKG), Yangon (RGN), Surabaya (SUB)|
|4||Bangkok (BKK), Manila (MNL)|
|3||Penang (PEN), Perth (PER), Phuket (HKT)|
|1||Darwin (DRW), Haikou (HAK), Medan (KNO), Phnom Penh (PNH), Siem Reap (REP)|
|Source: OAG Schedules Analyser data for w/c 9 November 2015.|
Looking at the airline’s weekly schedule at Singapore, around 10% of its over 250 departing flights leave Changi Airport after 23:00 and before 06:00. These include the airline’s service to Darwin, one of its five daily flights to Bangkok and one of its two flights to Perth, which at 3,907 kilometres is the longest route currently operated.