Earlier this week, Mumbai based Jet Airways announced a net post-tax loss of Rs. 355.4 Crore (US $ 59.8 million) for the first quarter of Fiscal Year 2014, reversing from a Rs. 24.7 Crore net profit during the same period a year prior.
Total revenues declined a whopping 12.3% to Rs. 4, 064.4 Crore on a 15.0% decline in revenue passengers to 4.13 million, and an 11.3% capacity decline measured by available seat kilometres (ASKs) to 9.13 million ASKs. Seat factors cratered to 78.4% from 82.7% year-over-year (YOY).
Jet Airways recorded a large operating loss of Rs. 111.2 Crore in Q1 versus an operating profit of Rs. 223.5 Crore the year, translating to an operating margin of -2.8% versus +4.9% in Q1 of Fiscal Year 2013.
The nominal average fare paid by Jet Airways customers rose 2.3% to Rs. 8,278, but fell 4.2% on an inflation adjusted basis. Revenue per available seat kilometer (RASK) fell 0.8% year over year to 3.60 Rupees from 3.63 Rupees a year prior while cost per available seat kilometer (CASK) increased 8.7% to 3.92 Rupees. CASK and RASK are used to adjust revenue and cost figures for segment length.
Looking segment by segment, Jet Airways’ full service domestic operations once again performed abysmally, with a net pre-tax loss of Rs. 263.0 Crore versus a profit of Rs. 16.8 Crore the year prior. Operating margin domestically was an astoundingly poor -7.9% versus +6.8% a year prior – a swing of 14.7 percentage points! Domestic revenues fell 13.1% year over year to Rs. 1763.5 Crore, and while domestic RASK actually increased by 0.9% (down 3.3% on an inflation-adjusted basis), it was more than offset by a 17.6% increase in CASK.
Domestic operations continued to suffer from the poor Indian macroeconomic environment, as growth for Fiscal Year 2014 is projected to fall to 5.5% by the Reserve Bank of India. India’s growth prospects seem doveish for the next few years and airline will see growth plateauing over the next few months.
Importantly, fuel is not a major contributor to Jet Airways’ woes, as moderating fuel prices around the globe in Q1 meant that fuel cost per ASK fell 7.5% year over year. Despite the slowing economy, domestic capacity amongst Indian carriers was up 0.1% in Q1 and passenger demand rose 1%.
Low Cost Carriers (LCCs) SpiceJet, GoAir, and IndiGo have continued their rapid expansion despite slowing Indian growth, which has put increased fare pressure on Jet Airways at the lower end. At the same time, the expected fare bump amongst high yield business travellers and first class passengers after the demise of full service rival Kingfisher Airlines largely has not materialized thanks to aggressive pricing on the part of beleaguered national carrier Air India. Despite spotty operational reliability, LCC SpiceJet has continued to profit (Rs. 55 Crore in Q1 of FY14) and its maturing Q400 operation is taking away business from Jet Airways’ regional ATR operations, especially in the South.
International financial performance also weakened year over year, falling to a Rs. 92.4 Crore pre-tax loss from a Rs. 16.5 Crore pre-tax profit the year prior. Revenues fell 11.7% to Rs. 2300.9 Crore as Jet Airways continues to restructure its international operations in advance of the implementation of the newly designed Jetihad partnership with Etihad Airways. Revenue per available seat mile fell 2.1% (7.8% on an inflation adjusted basis), while cost per available seat kilometer grew 2.3%. The operating margin on international operations fell to 0.8%, from 5.6% in Q1 of Fiscal Year 2013.
Despite all the hubbub and media drama surrounding Jet Airways’ international operations, they are actually the better performer within the company on an operating and net basis. International operations came under some pressure thanks to the continued de-valuation of the Indian Rupee since many costs on international operations are accrued in US dollars. That pressure, which contributed nearly a third of Jet Airways’ losses in Q1 at Rs. 134.3 Crores, looks like it should subside to some degree as the Indian government is taking steps to increase in-flow of US dollars.
|Bulk of Jet Airways’ A330-200 fleet idle at New Delhi|
The airline withdrew from many international routes like Mumbai Johannesburg, Chennai Brussels, Brussels New York JFK, and New Delhi Milan. The contraction in operations led to a severe under-utilisation of Jet Airways’ wide body fleet, especially the Airbus A330-200s, (as captured by Devesh Agarwal at New Delhi IGI airport), which led to a Rs. 128.2 Crore adverse impact on finances.
During the analysts earnings call, Jet Airways management indicated that the airline had already leased two A330s to investor Etihad Airways PJSC of Abu Dhabi, and is “close to signing” a deal with another west Asian carrier for five A330s. So the cost impact will reduce in the quarters moving forward.
But the domestic operations remain challenging. In our opinion, from a financial perspective, Jet must solve its lagging domestic revenue and market share before the company as a whole can return to profitability. Structurally, the debt load facing Jet Airways, including US $300-400 million in high-cost shorter term debt, is the major challenge. Finance charges stood at Rs. 234.1 Crore in Q1, and with Jet Airways recently committing to order 50 737 MAX, as per a report in the Live Mint, the capital expenditures plan over the next 10 years only looks set to exacerbate that.
Stay tuned for Parts 2 and 3 of our analysis coming later this week, covering JetLite results, analysis of fleet and network plans, and a plan to tackle the debt load.