Home' Asian Aviation : AAV February 2011 Contents AsianAviation | FEBRUARY 2011 31
Firefly takes aim at
Malaysian regional operator
Firefly, which has up to
now marketed itself as a
"community airline", re-
launched itself as a low-cost
carrier (LCC) on 15 January,
rming up plans to operate a eet of 30 Boeing 737-
800s jetliners by 2015.
With an initial eet of three of the jets, con gured
with single-class cabins seating 180 passengers, the
wholly owned Malaysia Airlines (MAS) subsidiary
currently operates four-times daily to Kuching and
thrice-daily to Kota Kinabalu from the main terminal
at Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA).
The airline also operates flights out of Subang
Airport, located 25km outside the Malaysian capital,
serving destinations in peninsular Malaysia, Singapore,
Phuket in ailand and Batam in Indonesia. ese
ser vices are operated using the carrier's turboprop eet
of 10 ATR 72-500s.
Fire y spokesperson Kalpana Devasagayam told
Asian Aviation that three more 737-800s will be added
to the eet later this year, with seven additional aircra
per year arriving in 2012 and 2013, and ve more per
year in 2014 and 2015. Fire y Managing Director
Eddy Leong said the carrier will purchase the aircra ,
rather than leasing them.
e airline has also rmed up plans to acquire
another four ATR 72-500 turboprops to expand its
operations from Subang.
Devasagayam said Fire y will expand its jet aircra
network to additional domestic destinations in
the states of Sabah and Sarawak, as well as regional
destinations within ve hours' ight time from KLIA,
as the airline acquires more aircra .
New jet hubs
Apart from KLIA, the airline plans to set up hubs for
jet operations in Penang, Kota Kinabalu and Kuching.
It is also seriously considering Johor Bahru as a hub
and is expecting to make a decision on that proposal
later this year.
According to Shukor Yusof, a Singapore-based
analyst for Standard & Poor's, Fire y's decision to
re-launch as an LCC is clearly aimed at providing
much-needed competition in the booming low-fare
market segment out of KLIA -- currently dominated by
AirAsia, the largest LCC in the region. "With Fire y
using 737-800 aircra , AirAsia can expect some sti
competition," Shukor said.
e booming South-East Asian market will see two
new LCCs start operations in 2011.
First to take off in March will be Bangkok-
based ai Tiger Air ways, a joint venture between
Singapore's Tiger Air ways and Thai Airways
International, operating a single-aisle eet of ve
Five more A320s will be added to the eet in 2012
to ser ve other Asian markets. Seven of ai Tiger's
eight routes -- ser ving Phuket, Chiang Mai, Penang,
Macau, Kuala Lumpur, Chennai and Shenzhen -- will
be operated out of Bangkok's Suvarnabhumi Airport,
while the other will be Phuket-Chiang Mai.
ose routes are all currently served by AirAsia's
ai AirAsia unit.
Despite the Ministry of Transport (MOT) in
Bangkok describing ai Airways' plans to launch
the new LCC as "incomplete", the ai ag carrier
said it is con dent the new venture will get o the
ground as planned.
MOT Permanent Secretary Supoj Supiom said ai
Airways' plan lacks detail on the venture's anticipated
return on investment and route expansion plans.
Thai Air ways Chairman Ampon Kittiampon
responded that ai Tiger will plan its expansion
once it gets o the ground.
"We can't plan now as we have to monitor the
market closely rst," Ampon said.
Malaysia Airlines' Firefly subsidiary has begun to operate as a low-cost carrier with the arrival of its first Boeing 737
narrowbodies, offering fresh competition to the region's market leader, AirAsia, writes William Dennis.
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