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Firefly wants more routes

By Leong Hung Yee (hungyee@thestar.com.my)

PETALING JAYA: Malaysia Airlines (MAS) subsidiary Firefly, which last week received the green light from the Government to operate from the Subang airport, hopes to ply more domestic routes.

Managing director and chief executive officer Datuk Idris Jala said the carrier was in talks with the Government to operate more domestic routes from the Sultan Abdul Aziz Shah Airport.

“Firefly will be flying to Kertih, Malacca and Ipoh from Subang. However, the current route allocation for flights out of Subang is a bit too restrictive,” he said after the company’s AGM yesterday.

He said Firefly had also proposed to operate out of Senai airport in Johor.

»The details need to be sorted out before MAS can take over the (RAS) service« DATUK IDRIS JALA

The low-cost carrier is currently based in Penang and uses two 50-seat Fokker Friendship aircraft. It flies daily to Langkawi, Kota Baru, Kuala Terengganu and Kuantan, as well as Phuket and Koh Samui in Thailand.

MAS is in the process of taking over the rural air service (RAS) operations from Fly Asian Xpress (FAX). The national carrier will use the 12 turbo-prop aircraft currently operated by FAX for the RAS routes.

“The original intention was to take over the RAS operations on Jan 1, 2008, but due to requests from the Governments of Sabah and Sarawak as well as passengers, we will start operations from Oct 1,” Jala said, adding that the RAS would be undertaken by new subsidiary MASWings Sdn Bhd.

“The details need to be sorted before MAS can take over the service and, hopefully, by October everything can be sorted out,” he said. “We need to make sure all the aircraft are in operational condition and the auditing process is ongoing.”

Commenting on MAS’ hedging policy, executive director and chief financial officer Tengku Datuk Azmil Zahruddin Raja Abdul Aziz said the airline had hedged about 61% of its fuel requirement for this year at US$60 a barrel.

“For 2008, we have hedged about 18% at about US$62 per barrel,” he said, adding that the company’s hedging policy had not changed.

Jala said MAS was still in talks with Airbus SAS on the late delivery of the Airbus A380, ordered in 2003.

“We are still exploring various options. It could be compensation for MAS for the delay in delivery of the A380 aircraft or replacing it with a different model, depending on the pricing,” he said.

He said the national carrier would continue to strengthen its hub-and-spoke connectivity. Jala said the airline had been in discussion with potential partners and was expected to sign an agreement with a China-based airline this year.

He is also confident that MAS’ maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) business would continue to grow this year. The airline expects its MRO revenue to rise to RM300mil this year. Last year, the MRO business brought in about RM200mil in revenue, up from RM100mil the previous year.

Source: The Star on 19 Jun 2007.

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