22 February 2011
PETALING JAYA, Feb 22 (Bernama) -- Fly Firefly Sdn Bhd, a unit of Malaysia Airlines revised its passengers target to 3.5 million this year from an earlier target of three million passengers with the launch of its Southern hub in Senai, Johor.
FireFly Managing Director Datuk Eddy Leong said the new hub would operate in May with two fleet of Boeing 737-400 aircraft instead of its 737-800 aircraft.
"It costs us three-and-a-half time less to operate 737-400. Once the hub proves its success, then we will think of bringing in 800 aircraft," he told reporters here Tuesday.
The budget airline is confident the numerous commercial and tourism activities expected to generate in Johor Bahru via the Iskandar Malaysia development would be able to positively contribute to its economic growth.
The new plan follows the community airline's first jet aircraft flights last month, operated with Boeing 737-800s.
Currently Firefly leases the 737-400 aircrafts from the open market on a short-term lease of less than five years, he said adding that to switch to the 737-800 aircrafts, it would likely take two to three years to do so.
"Eventually when the Iskandar region development progresses there will be increase in in-bound arrivals of business and leisure travellers.
"The economic boost will create natural traffic," he explained.
The community airline today announced the second phase of its expansion programmes with the launch of its Southern hub in Johor and Eastern hub in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah.
This phase will be accompanied with the introduction of new sectors and additional frequencies on the Sabah and Sarawak routes, which started operating in January this year.
Leong said Firefly would also base a 737-800 at Kota Kinabalu and would increase flights between Kuala Lumpur and Kota Kinabalu to six times daily from May 15. Currently it flies three times daily.
FireFly is also eyeing international routes from the new hub, Senai and expects to commence flights to Jakarta, Surabaya and Bandung in the third quarter of this year.
Bangkok will follow in the fourth quarter, Leong added.
The new hub brings FireFly's total hub infrastructures to five with its existing hubs at Subang Skypark, KL International Airport and Penang.
Asked when the airline is looking into acquiring any new aircrafts, he said most likely the slot would be available in the year 2012.
He, however reiterated that the lease market was very attractive as it was very safe.