Friday, July 12, 2013

Firefly aims to fly higher

SUBANG: With 20 turboprop aircraft added to its fleet, Firefly Sdn Bhd has set a higher target of flying two million passengers in 2013.

The short-haul airline operator continues to focus on serving demand for domestic flights, catering especially to the corporate community in both the Government and private sectors.

Chief executive officer Ignatius Ong believes the airline plays an important role in supporting local economic activities.

“Our focus point is short-haul and we are looking at domestic movements which are rapidly growing together with Government agencies and the private sector’s demand for domestic flights,” he said at the send-off of Firefly’s newest aircraft on its maiden commercial flight.

Ong added that Firefly was now looking to increase its frequency to destinations such as Penang and Johor and leisure spots like Langkawi.

He reiterated that the airline was working closely with the private sector to grow the aviation industry’s contribution to Malaysia’s gross domestic product.

“We have announced a new route, a direct flight into Pekanbaru from Johor since we expanded our number of aircraft, but we also want higher frequencies to the existing routes,” he said.

Firefly purchased 20 new-generation ATR72-600 aircraft last year, building on its existing 12 ATR72-500 fleet. The first of the new aircraft was delivered to Sultan Abdul Aziz Shah Airport earlier this week and launched its inaugural flight to Senai International Airport, Johor, yesterday.

The airline expects to take five to six years to complete the delivery of all 20 aircraft in stages. It will receive two in 2013 and three more in 2014.

On listing plans, Ong said “It is not out of our scope, but not at the moment. Never say never but to contemplate that, we would need to strengthen our operations and secure our position first, only then can we review the possibility.”

Firefly has established its base in Peninsular Malaysia, with hubs in Penang, Subang in Selangor, Kota Baru in Kelantan and a pseudo-hub in Johor. As a short-haul airline, it does not fly to Sabah or Sarawak but works closely with parent Malaysia Airlines to connect passengers.

Firefly will not be flying from KLIA2.

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