ANALYSIS: Airlines in Southwest Pacific - The Biggest and Fastest Growing Operators

Ahead of this year's World Routes forum, Routesonline is providing another look at our series of articles on the leading airlines and airports and most used aircraft types across regions of the world last year. Here we look closely at the airlines of the Southwest Pacific and highlight the region's top performers.

Ahead of this year's World Routes forum, Routesonline is providing another look at our series of articles on the leading airlines and airports and most used aircraft types across regions of the world last year.  Here we look closely at the airlines of the Southwest Pacific and highlight the region's top performers.

​ The data is all supplied by OAG Aviation using its OAG Schedules Analyser tool.

Scheduled Air Capacity From the Southwest Pacific (2005 - 2014)

Our analysis of published schedules for the past ten years shows that air capacity within and from the Southwest Pacific has risen from 98,709,633 available seats in 2005 to 134,035,065 available seats in 2014.  This represents a growth of 35.8 per cent across the period, an average annual increase of 4.0 per cent.  In the past year capacity increased 1.5 per cent.

Top Ten Airlines in the Southwest Pacific Market (2014)

Australian airlines dominate air travel within and from the Southwest Pacific. Flag carrier Qantas Airways leads the way with a 27.1 per cent share of available capacity within and from the region in 2014 despite available seats declining 1.7 per cent last year. This has seen its share of the market decline 0.9 percentage points from 28.0 per cent in 2013 due to increased competition.

The expanding Virgin Australia is the second largest airline in the region with a 20.0 per cent share in 2014, up 1.7 percentage points on the previous year following an 11.7 per cent rise in capacity. Budget carrier Jetstar Airways is the third largest airline with a 15.1 per cent share following a 3.4 per cent growth in 2014.

Air New Zealand is the largest non-Australian carrier in the region with a 12.2 per cent capacity share in 2014, while Emirates Airline is the largest operator from outside the region with a 2.3 per cent share thanks to its strong operation into Australia and New Zealand, including the deployment of its larger Airbus A380 Super Jumbos on routes into the countries.

Interestingly, only three of the top ten airlines in this market reported a decline in capacity in this region between 2013 and 2014. Alongside the previously highlighted 1.7 per cent decline at Qantas Airways, Regional Express reduced capacity 0.7 per cent and US major United Airlines witnessed an 8.9 per cent decline in available seats.

Fastest Growing Airlines in the Southwest Pacific Market (2010-2014)

Looking at capacity data in the region across a five year period, the important rise in air travel between China and destinations across the Southwest Pacific is clear as it is China Southern Airlines that has reported the largest rise in capacity within and from the region between 2010 and 2014 with available seats up 222.8 per cent.

Significant growth during this timescale was also recorded by long-haul, low-cost carrier AirAsia X as the Australian and New Zealand markets have been key for its passenger growth from South East Asia. It has more than doubled its own capacity in the region across the five year period with available seats rising 136.1 per cent.

Elsewhere, Airlines of Papua New Guinea reported a strong 80.7 per cent rise in capacity, while Emirates Airline (up 41.7 per cent), Jetstar Airways (up 40.3 per cent), Air Niugini (up 35.5 per cent) and Malaysia Airlines (up 34.6 per cent) all increased capacity by more than a third.

Data comparison between 2013 and 2014 shows that low-cost carrier Tigerair Australia reported the largest year-on-year growth among the top ten airlines serving this region with capacity rising 11.7 per cent over the 12 month period. This followed a significant 47.5 per cent growth in 2013 as the carrier got its operations back on track following its grounding in 2012.

It is one of only two of the top ten airlines to report double-digit capacity growth, alongside Virgin Australia which boosted its available network capacity by 11.4 per cent between 2013 and 2014.

Outside of the top ten airlines, it was AirAsia X that reported the largest rise in capacity with network capacity in the Southwest Pacific increasing 54.3 per cent. This followed a 35.2 per cent growth between 2012 and 2013.

Elsewhere Airlines of Papua New Guinea reported the second largest rise in capacity in the Southwest Pacific region in 2014 with a 29.2 per cent increase in seats, while despite its turbulent year, Malaysia Airlines increased capacity in the region by 28.2 per cent, offering more than one million one-way seats for the first time since 2007.

Scheduled Southwest Pacific Capacity by Aircraft Type

The chart below shows which aircraft types were most prevalent in the Southwest Pacific market during 2014. The schedule data shows the Boeing 737-800 (winglets) (73H) is the most widely used aircraft type in this market with a 26.2 per cent share of available seats with overall network capacity up 2.1 per cent between 2013 and 2014 from 19.68 million seats to 35.18 million seats.

The second most utilised aircraft type in this market is the Airbus A320 (320) with a 20.7 per cent share, while third most widely operated type by network capacity is the widebody Airbus A330-200 (332) with a 5.3 per cent share.

The biggest rise in annual capacity among the top ten aircraft types were recorded by the Boeing 717 (717) with a 39.4 per cent rise in available domestic seats in 2014 versus 2013. The largest decline in annual capacity was recorded by the Boeing 767-300ER (763) with a fall of 28.3 per cent versus 2013, albeit it remains the seventh most used aircraft type in the region.

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