Another low-cost carrier called Firefly will take to the skies from April 2. It will be based at the Penang International Airport.
FlyFirefly Sdn Bhd, a 100% subsidiary of Malaysia Airlines, will initially fly six routes.
The routes are from Penang to Langkawi, Kota Baru, Kuala Terengganu and Kuantan for the domestic destinations and from Penang to Koh Samui and Phuket for the regional destinations.
For a start, the airline will use two 50-seater Fokker planes to fly to Phuket and Koh Samui seven times a week, while it will fly 14 times weekly to Kota Baru, Kuala Terengganu, Kuantan and Langkawi.
As for the airfare, MAS managing director Idris Jala said: “It will start from as low as RM9, slightly more than the price of a plate of nasi kandar.”
In presenting the operating licence to Idris at his office here yesterday, Transport Minister Datuk Seri Chan Kong Choy said the new airline would promote Penang as the country’s hub for low-cost carriers in the northern region.
“Except for the Penang-Langkawi routes, the domestic destinations are currently not being serviced by any other airline, so Firefly will fill the niche and boost connectivity in the north.
“This connectivity will further boost tourist arrivals, particularly to achieve our 20 million target during Visit Malaysia 2007, as well as enhance economic development within the Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand growth area in the long term.
“MAS’ decision to set up this carrier is the result of earlier discussions between the airline and the ministry on how they can improve their network for the Visit Malaysia Year,” he told reporters after the weekly Cabinet meeting.
With Firefly joining the stable, the country will now have six airlines. The others are Malaysia Airlines, AirAsia, Berjaya Air, Transmile and Fly Asian Xpress.
Idris said Firefly – tagged the community airline – was aimed at serving people staying in places previously not served by any airline.
“But MAS cannot do it because of the higher operating costs for us. So we have to set up this new airline.
“It will be a win-win situation for everybody. However, this airline will have an entirely new managing team and business model, all of which will be announced on March 17 in Penang,” he said, adding that MAS expects to achieve profit from the Firefly's operations from next year.