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Firefly to double ATR fleet to fuel expansion

25 August, 2010

TURBOPROP operator Firefly is looking to double its fleet of ATR 72-500 aircraft from seven to 14 by 2012.

Firefly managing director Datuk Eddy Leong yesterday announced that the airline will be taking delivery of three more planes between December this year and January 2011.

The company is negotiating for another four ATRs to fuel its expansion into more secondary routes, Leong added.

"Entry into service will be one month from delivery date," he said in a statement.

The three planes were to arrive last year but were deferred as recession took its toll on business.

The cost of the new aircraft was not disclosed, and neither the manner in which Firefly - which is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Malaysian Airlines System Bhd - would fund the purchase of these planes.

Leong said the additional aircraft will be used to strengthen Firefly's current network footprint through increased frequency for high demand sectors.

"We are also reinstating some Penang-based routes that were suspended as a result of a network rationalisation carried out in the first quarter of 2009 due to unfavourable economic conditions," he added.

Last year, Firefly announced the suspension of several routes operating out of the Penang International Airport.

They included flights from Penang to Kuala Terengganu, Kota Baru, Koh Samui and Kuantan. The Subang-Phuket flight was also suspended.

Firefly received its first ATR72-500 aircraft in 2008 and has since been operating with 7 brand new ATR72-500s serving 19 destinations from hubs in Subang and Penang.

The airline's routes cover both business and leisure destinations in Malaysia, Singapore, Sumatera and Thailand.

In December 2007, MAS and Aerei da Trasporto Regionale (ATR) inked a firm contract and a memorandum of understanding (MOU) for the purchase of 20 ATR 72-500 aircraft.

Firefly and MASwings, the two fully-owned subsidiaries of MAS, will operate 10 ATRs each.

The contract for Firefly's ATRs included options for 10 more planes, while the MOU with regard to MASwings includes options for five more.

The aircraft at the time were reportedly sold by ATR at US$18.5 million (RM57.90 million) each.

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