Seminal changes in Southeast Asian aviation mean that full service airline seat numbers between the region and Australia have peaked and are now on an irretrievable downward trajectory.

But that doesn’t mean capacity ex-Asia is falling, CAPA’s Chief Analyst Brendan Sobie told the Australia Pacific Aviation Summit yesterday.

In fact the reverse is true due to the rise and rise of low cost carriers, especially AirAsia and its regional franchises.

The decline in full service seat numbers is primarily due to big changes at three of the region’s major carriers – Singapore Airlines, Thai Airways and Malaysia Airlines.

Singapore Airlines is re-configuring many of its cabins, reducing the number of economy seats and replacing them with a new spacious premium economy product.

More space equals less seats.

Meanwhile Thai Airways and Malaysia Airlines are re-structuring due to diabolically poor long-term financial performance, a key element of which is cutting marginal routes.

Mr Sobie said Malaysia Airline’s Australian capacity will fall by 40% and added that Garuda’s traffic is also down by 15%.

The recent high “level of capacity from Southeast Asia into Australia never be matched again,” he said.

“It’s a new era essentially.”

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