The purchase was in response to the Government’s request that MASWings, a subsidiary of MAS set up to service the air routes of Sabah and Sarawak, expand its services to the two states.
MAS executive director and chief financial officer Tengku Azmil Zahruddin and ATR chief executive officer Stephane Mayer signed the MoU.
MASWings is expected to take delivery of the first five aircraft in 2009 and the next batch in 2010. ATR is a joint venture between EADS and Alenia Aeronautica. The ATR 72 500 is a turboprop six-blade propeller aircraft.
“The new aircraft will enable MASWings to expand its capacity by 150%.
“This will allow MASWings to meet the future demand in air travel within Sabah and Sarawak and connect more customers worldwide to the two states, which are ideal destinations for business and vacation,” Tengku Azmil said in a joint media release with ATR.
He added that with the fleet expansion, MASWings would progressively add new frequencies in addition to expanding its services to more destinations in Sabah and Sarawak.
MASWings, which started operating in both states on Oct 1 this year, currently has four Fokker F50 and four Twin Otter aircraft.
Meanwhile, OSK Investment Bank senior analyst Chris Eng said the acquisition of the aircraft for MASWings would not impact the country’s flagship airline negatively, as the Government footed the bill.
“It just shows that it is keen on maintaining a good level of service,” he said.
Eng added that the MoU signed between MAS and ATR in July for the purchase of 10 ATR 72 500s with an option to purchase another 10 for MAS’ low-cost carrier, Firefly, was another step in showing that it was serious in expanding the Firefly fleet.
Firefly was launched in April this year in Penang and recently started operations in Subang. It currently has a fleet of two Fokker F50 aircraft.
Source : STAR
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