ANALYSIS: MAS defies fall in Asia-Pacific load factors for April

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Malaysia Airlines (MAS) saw a strong increase in passenger load factors during April, defying an overall fall in loads for carriers in the Asia-Pacific region.

Across 16 key carriers in the region, average load factors fell by 1.1 percentage points to 87.2% as capacity grew slightly quicker than traffic, as measured in RPKs, according to traffic data compiled by Flightglobal.

Note: changes in Air China reporting mean comparative data not available

MAS, however, managed to defy that trend. Despite capacity in ASKs increasing by a whopping 18%, the airline outpaced that with a 24% increase in RPKs, boosting its load factor to 78.6%.

The huge increase in capacity relative to April 2012 correlates with the introduction of the carrier's Airbus A380s. In April 2013, the 494-seat A380s replaced the carrier's 282-seat Boeing 777-200ERs on its twice daily London and daily Paris services. This substantially boosted MAS' RPKs.

At the other end of the scale, Singapore Airlines subsidiary SilkAir saw an 8 percentage point decline in load factor, as RPKs failed to keep pace with the 16% increase in capacity.

The higher capacity came as the airline added frequencies on a number of routes during its northern summer scheduling season, including services to Phuket, Chengdu, Yangon and Penang.

Chinese carriers showed mixed fortunes, with China Southern and China Eastern Airlines both recording falls in load factor, although they still remained high at 81.2% and 78.8% respectively. In comparison, Hainan Airlines registered a healthy 87.1% load factor, 3.5 percentage points higher than the same time last year.

Qantas's RPKs fell by 5.2% and capacity was 1.9% lower during what was the first month of operations of its extensive alliance with Emirates. As a result, the Oneworld carrier's load factor fell by 2.7 percentage points to 78.2%.