AirAsia India reports a net loss of INR 65.2 crore in Q2’16, stellar cost improvement but disappointing revenue performance. Total losses accumulate to around INR 200 crore

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Summary:

  1. Net loss INR 65.2 crore.
  2. Excellent work in reducing unit costs in Q2’16, exceeded expectations.
  3. Disappointing revenue performance.
  4. Excellent ancillary revenues.
  5. Accumulated losses around 200 crore, losses since start of operations around INR 150 crore.
  6. Financial & certain performance data reported by AirAsia India is inconsistent, inaccurate, and unreliable.

Data Discrepancy

Before we begin the analysis of AirAsia India’s performance, it must be noted that the quarter reports of AirAsia are unreliable, on at least four counts, as observed:

  1. The quarter report for Q1’16 (“SECOND QUARTER REPORT ENDED 30 JUNE 2015”) states that in Q1’15, AirAsia India reported a net loss of RM 0.4 Million. However, the quarter report for Q1’15 (“SECOND QUARTER REPORT ENDED 30 JUNE 2014”) states that AirAsia India reported a net loss of RM 13.8 Million. This translates to a difference of RM 13.4 Million / INR 25.9 crore.
  2. The quarter report for Q4’15 (“FIRST QUARTER REPORT ENDED 31 MARCH 2015”) states that in Q4’14, AirAsia India reported a net loss of RM 12.4 Million, which, based on the RM-INR conversion rate prevalent then, converts to INR 22.7 crore. However, the P&L statement in the same Q4’15 report states that AirAsia India had a net loss of only INR 8 crore.
  3. The quarter report for both Q2’16 (“THIRD QUARTER REPORT ENDED 30 JUNE 2015”) and Q2’15 (“THIRD QUARTER REPORT ENDED 30 JUNE 2014”) states that in Q2’15, AirAsia India recorded a net loss of RM 15.7 Million, which converts to INR 29 crore based on the RM-INR conversion rate prevalent then. However, in the Q2’16 report, AirAsia India is stated as having incurred a net loss of INR 52.9 crore.
  4. The flown capacity (ASK) reported by AirAsia India in its quarterly reports is 12%, 5% and 3% higher than what the airline has reported to the DGCA in Q2’16, Q1’16, and Q415. However, in teh two sources of data, the number of flights by the airline match perfectly, and the number of passengers flown are reasonably close.

As a result of (3), we will refrain from comparing Q2’16 data with Q2’15 data, but will only compare Q2’16 data with Q1’16 and Q4’15 data.

As a result of (4), we will refrain from using the AirAsia India flown capacity as reported in the quarterly reports, as this leads to very misleading performance numbers. We stick to the DGCA data.

We had already mentioned the first three points, but the discovery of issue (4) made us withdraw our earlier analysis and revise the numbers. This is the revised analysis.

Accumulated Losses

Due to the ambiguity resulting from points (1), (2) and (3) above, the total losses accumulated by AirAsia India including Q2’16 is around INR 200 crore. Total losses since start of commercial operations (ignoring June 2014) stands at INR 150 crore as reported by AirAsia India.

Q2’16 Analysis

Q2’16 (July 01st – September 30th, 2015) was AirAsia India’s first full quarter of 5 aircraft operations. In this period, the airline flew 416,182 passengers (excluding no shows: 401,905. No shows : 3%), which is a 38% rise compared to Q1’16, though the number of flights increased by 50%. This explains Q2’16’s load factors of 76%, as against Q1’16’s load factors of 83%. The load factors in Q2’16 were lower than the 79% witnessed in the other lean season – Q4’15. Load factors include no show passengers.

The airline operated 34 daily flights as of 30th September 2015, and flew its millionth passenger in the first half of August 2015.

AirAsia Q2'16 results vs Q1'16 Q4'15 redone DGCA numbers

Revenue

Q2 is historically a lean season. Capacity in Q2’16 grew by 56% over Q1’16, despite flights increasing by only 50%. This is in line with the average stage length of each flight increasing to 1,208 km/flt from 1,146 km/flt. Low load factors, increase in average stage length, and the low pricing power in the lean season have together resulted in the average fare dropping to INR 2,684 in Q2’16 from INR 3,350 in Q1’16. In Q2’16, AirAsia India did not inaugurate any new routes, but added a frequency on the Bengaluru – Vizag sector, and hence, there was no significant effect of low yields due to new routes.

Ancillary revenues at the airline have picked up very well. From being just 8% of total revenue in Q4’15, to 10% in Q1’16, it touched 15% in Q2’16. This has been aided by the increase in cargo per flight, to an average of 1,205 kg per flight in Q2’16 compared to 1,074 kg/flt in Q1’16 and 971 kg/flt in Q4’15.

However, on a unit basis, the airline’s revenue per available seat kilometre (RASK) suffered a 27% drop from Q1’16 figures, to settle at INR 2.22/seat-km, due to the factors mentioned in the preceding paragraphs. The unit revenues are 22% lower than the Q4’15 lean season.

Costs

AirAsia India’s cost performance is very good, and has touched record low values in Q2’16.

Unit aircraft fuel expenses fell by 13% in Q2’16 compared to Q1’16, despite fuel prices falling by only 9%. Higher average stage length of 5% can only contribute little to improved fuel consumption. However, tankering and uplifting fuel from stations with low sales tax on fuel may explain a part of the lower fuel expenses. Sales tax at Vishakhapatnam is just 1%, Goa 12.5%, Guwahati 22%, Imphal 20%, and Delhi 20%. Delhi, Guwahati, Imphal and Vishakhapatnam operations, and increased operations to Goa in Q2’16 may have significantly contributed to the drop in fuel costs.

Inexplicably, the staff costs have dropped in Q2’16 compared to Q1’16, from INR 31 crore to INR 29 crore. While there is no obvious explanation for such a drop, it has resulted in the unit staff costs to drop by 41% in Q2’16.

Unit maintenance costs have increased by 2% in Q2’16.

Due to longer flights, capacity has increased by 56% but flights by only 50%, in Q2’16 compared to Q1’16 resulting in the 7% drop in unit user charges and related expenses, which are largely a per-flight expense.

Unit lease expenses have dropped significantly by 29% in Q2’16, attributable to increased aircraft utilisation, higher capacity and no aircraft having to remain on ground in Q2’16. Average lease rental per aircraft per month is INR 2 crore.

Other operating expenses, most of which are fixed, have been diluted by the higher capacity, dropping by 25% in Q2’16.

Other Income, which is treated as part of operations by AirAsia India, increased by 10%, positively impacting the bottom line.

The cumulative effect of increasing frequency, network changes, and increased aircraft utilisation, amongst others, has reduced unit total operational costs at AirAsia India by 21% (including other income which can also be a negative quantity as in Q4’15). This is a brilliant performance, though the drop in staff costs is yet to be clearly identified. One explanation is perhaps the reduction in training expenses due to stagnation of fleet growth, and perhaps the voluntary exit of certain crew.

Break Even Figures

In Q2’16, AirAsia India realised a per-passenger cost of INR 4,621, which is 10% lower than the INR 5,166 cost per passenger in Q1’16, but 15% higher than the INR 4,009 cost per passenger in Q4’15.

In Q1’16, AirAsia India incurred a loss of INR 1,469 per passenger. At the same unit passenger revenue of INR 3,154, AirAsia India would have needed a break-even load factor of 112%.

AirAsia India lost INR 1.04 per seat flown every kilometer, which is 5% lower than INR 1.09/seat-km in Q1’16, but 30% higher than the unit loss incurred in Q4’15.

Cost Structure

AirAsia India Cost Structure Q2'16AirAsia India’s cost structure is depicted in the pie chart. Fuel constitutes 36% of the airline’s expenses.

Cancellations and OTP

Only 6 flights were cancelled by AirAsia India, in Q2’16. The airline operated 3,032 flights, with an average on time performance (OTP) of 87%.

Q3’16 forecast

In Q3’16, AirAsia India inducted its 6th aircraft into operations, in the second half of November 2015. Daily flights have gone upto 40, with increase in frequencies and the inauguration of a new route, Delhi – Vishakhapatnam.

Our forecast for AirAsia India’s performance in Q3’16:

  1. Quarter’s Load factors to increase to around 85%.
  2. Capacity to increase by 12% and passengers carried (including no shows) to touch around 520,000.
  3. Average unit passenger revenue may rise by around 20%+ compared to Q2’16.
  4. Certain unit costs to slightly increase due to addition of 6th aircraft and sending one aircraft for half a month for scheduled heavy maintenance.
  5. Certain unit costs to very slightly increase due to weather related delays and diversions.
  6. Ancillary Revenue percentage to drop in light of higher average fare.
  7. For break even, unit passenger revenue must rise by around 45% (compared to Q2’16)
  8. Very slim chance of an operational break-even. More likely in Q1’17 (April – June 2016).

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