Higher incremental capacity, load factors to boost SpiceJet's market share

The letter of intent is for 25 Q400 turboprops and purchase rights for an additional 25 aircraft.
After doubling from its yearly lows earlier this year, the stock of SpiceJet has been on a declining trend. Issues related to 737 MAX, pricing pressures in the domestic market, higher operating costs, and weak near-term earnings outlook have weighed on the stock price. There are, however, a few triggers, going ahead.

While there are pressures on yields, lower fares have helped boost load factors. SpiceJet reported 93 per cent load factor for November, led by a 45 per cent jump in passenger traffic. The carrier is the largest beneficiary of the shutdown at Jet Airways, as it has absorbed most of Jet’s planes and slots.

SpiceJet’s fleet size has increased by 75 per cent year-on-year. While the market share of SpiceJet is around the 16-per cent mark (up 400 basis points over the year-ago period), analysts at Axis Securities believe the carrier may gain additional market share, as other carriers, such as IndiGo, grapple with lower capacity addition.

While there are issues with the grounded 737 MAX fleet as well as new inductions, analysts at Edelweiss Research believe capacity growth for SpiceJet is expected to accelerate, with new plane additions expected to resume from April 2020.

In 2020-21, they expect 56 per cent capacity growth, compared to 21 per cent for IndiGo. The addition of new planes will bring down SpiceJet’s fuel costs, as they are 12-15 per cent more fuel-efficient and have higher capacity, compared to the current fleet.

The other benefit is that its cost structure is expected to converge with that of IndiGo’s, which has the lowest per unit cost in the industry. This will add to its profits, as the company is already ahead in per unit revenues on account of higher regional routes, load factors, and better yield management.

What could boost revenue growth for SpiceJet are the international routes which have seen 60 per cent increase in capacity in the first half of 2019-20. The company will benefit from higher load factor, as analysts expect international traffic to grow by about 15 per cent over the next couple of years.

While there are multiple positive, analysts at JPMorgan highlight the risk of divestment at Air India, which could lead to increase in competitive intensity. This is because the national carrier controls 13 per cent and 66 per cent of the domestic and international passenger market share, respectively, and has key slots and bilateral rights.

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