Southeast Asia Is A Growing Market For Widebody LCCs

Southeast Asia has the world’s biggest number of widebody aircraft operating for low-cost carriers, followed closely by Western Europe and North America. This figure has jumped by 52% over the last two years, with LLC’s ordering new 787s and A330s to meet massive growth in demand in the region.

AirAsia A330
AirAsia X has the most widebodies on order. Photo: AirAsia

Certain low-cost carriers are in love with widebody aircraft, as they let them fly the maximum amount of low-fare paying passengers incredible distances. This allows LCCs to rival some of the flag carriers that have long held monopolies on these routes.

What are the details?

A new report published by CAPA (Center for Aviation) highlights the massive trend of Southeast Asia’s low-cost carriers seeking widebody aircraft. The region has the largest aircraft operating in this configuration in the world, specifically 175 aircraft, with airlines like AirAsia X operating the most in the area with 33 A330s (-300s and -900neos).

Not only that, the AirAsia group has an order for 76 aircraft, of which 66 are A330-900neos and 10 are A350-900s.

“Today’s announcement is testament to our confidence and commitment to longer haul air travel. This is the future of our long-haul operations. The A330neo’s revolutionary new features and modifications will move our long-haul service sectors up to a higher level and allow AirAsia X to look at expanding beyond the eight-hour flight radius, such as to Europe, for example.”Tan Sri Rafidah Aziz, Chairman of AirAsia X Berhad, in an Airbus Press Release.

This growth highlights the massive demand there is to fly low-cost carrier routes around the region, catering to those of lower economic means (more so in this region compared to say North America or Europe) and others who want a good bargain.

AirAsia X, Airbus A321XLR, Airbus A330neo
AirAsia X is a huge fan of the new Airbus A330neo. Photo: Airbus

What about other low-cost carriers in Southeast Asia?

But AirAsia isn’t the only airline in the region hunting for widebody aircraft, with rival Jetstar backing the Boeing 787 series of their low-cost route needs.

The Australian start-up is now pan Asian. It has subsidiaries like Jetstar Japan, Jetstar Pacific (Vietnam), Jetstar Asia (Singapore) and New Zealand domestic operations under the Australia-New Zealand Open Skies agreement. To connect all of these airlines, Jetstar operates a fleet of eleven Boeing 787-8 aircraft.

This is nothing compared to the Singapore entry to the low-cost carrier market, Scoot, which operates 20 widebody Boeing 787s (10 787-8s and 10 787-9s) with another two on order. The carrier uses these for flights linking Australia to Europe for incredible deals.

Low-cost carrier Scoot charges passengers for power usage, a true low-cost carrier. Photo: Scoot

What about other regions?

Following closely behind Southeast Asia is Western Europe. This region is led by the famous industry disruptor Norwegian, which operates 27 Boeing 787s (eight 787-8s and 19 787-9s) across three different airline fleets: Norwegian Air Shuttle, Norwegian Air International and Norwegian Air UK.

Their New York – Madrid route is usually flown with a Boeing 787 Dreamliner. Photo: Norwegian

Of all low-cost carriers in the world, it operates the biggest fleet of widebody aircraft. This is closely followed by Air Canada Rouge (operating 25 767-300ERs) and AirAsia. Not only that, but Norwegian also has on order 35 more Boeing 787-9s, almost single-handedly driving growth in the low-cost carrier sector in this region.

The reason for its success? Norwegian has exploited the transatlantic market, ferrying passengers from Europe across to North America, cutting massively into the profits of full-service airlines like British Airways (who has never really given up their ambition to buy Norwegian).

What do you think of this report? Do you fly on these widebody low-cost carriers? Let us know in the comments below.