The airlines operating on the Southeast Asian market are undertaking different approaches to the development of their fleets in 2018. VietJet is the carrier with the most aggressive growth in terms of adding new aircraft along with AirAsia Group, while the Lion Group fleet is barely expanding.
Currently, there are five big carries in SE Asia based on the number of their aircraft – Lion with 302 planes, AirAsia/AirAsia X with 223 planes, Singapore Airlines with 196 planes, Garuda Indonesia with 193 planes, and Malaysia Airlines with 112 planes.
The biggest operator, Lion Group shows a tendency of reducing the number of new aircraft it adds to its fleet. While in 2015 it received a total of 57 planes, which was a record for the company, it started gradually reducing the numbers to 36 in 2016, 29 in 2017, and is expecting only 17 jets in 2018.
Malindo Air, which is Lion’s Malaysian affiliate, has stopped its expansion. The carrier has not received any plane in a year and doesn’t plan to add any aircraft by the end of 2018. The airline is only considering the option to add two planes from its sister airline, Batik, by the end of 2018. The aircraft would either be a couple of 737-800s or 737-900ERs.
Thai Lion, a JV of Lion Group, envisages to grow its fleet only by 5 aircraft by the end of 2018. The airline already received three planes in the first half of the year and is expecting two more.
The reduced delivery rate of Lion Group comes as a bit of a surprise as it has a total of 450 aircraft on order at present. Nevertheless, their order book is not as aggressive as that of VietJet or AirAsia Group.
AirAsia/AirAsia X, which currently have a fleet of 243 aircraft have a total of 494 planes on order – more than double the size of its fleet.
VietJet is the carrier with the most significant growth plans. The airline currently operates only 59 planes but has a total of 328 on order, which is more than 5 times the size of its fleet.
The combined orders of the three airlines, Lion Group, AirAsia/AirAsia X and VietJet reaches almost 1,200 aircraft. It is expected that the airlines will also lease and sell some of the planes to external airlines.