Battle for the skies begins

Battle for the skies begins

4 January 2011

Kota Kinabalu: Firefly's inaugural service between here and Kuala Lumpur on Jan. 15 offers an additional choice of affordable air travel between East and West Malaysia and also more flights between both destinations if all the various airlines' services on the route are taken into account.

A random check on the websites of both Firefly and budget carrier AirAsia, showed the airfares offered by Firefly to be much lower, starting from RM24 per passenger for a one-way trip.

It is left to be seen if AirAsia would up the ante and match the offers, making the KL-KK route a bargain for travellers.

Firefly, operated by FlyFirefly Sdn Bhd which is a subsidiary of national carrier Malaysia Airlines (MAS), has already opened its online booking for the said route (Kuala Lumpur International Airport-Kota Kinabalu International Airport) since Saturday for travel between Jan 17 and May 15 this year.

The new Boeing 737-800 aircraft to be used in the service will fly twice daily from Kuala Lumpur to Kota Kinabalu and vice versa until Jan. 24, whereupon it will be increased to thrice daily. Firefly's new service route is part of the company's expansion plan to East Malaysia to complement MAS' strategy to grow the group's business in a targeted manner.

Apart from the cheaper airfare, Firefly also offers a choice of Standard or Premium sets of services to its passengers who have the option of choosing to add on the price of in-flight meals, merchandise, checked-baggage fees or more to the cost of the ticket.

A passenger is also only charged RM38 per Standard set of services by buying online, which will include in-flight meal of choice, premium seat selection and checked-baggage of 15kg+5kg.

This works out cheaper compared to its competitor, AirAsia.

State Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun said the expansion of Firefly's service to Sabah will not only be good for domestic tourism but will facilitate travel among Malaysians divided by the South China Sea.

He said indirectly it will promote national integration as travel has become more affordable. Healthy competition will obviously lead to improved service and efficiency.

"I believe there are sufficient passenger loads (for East-West Malaysia travel) for both carriers to operate the KL-KK-KL sector hopefully it will expand to other Malaysian cities in future," he said.

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