Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Firefly puts flights from 3 states to Singapore on hold

NATIONAL turboprop operator Firefly has put two more flights to Singapore on hold after postponing the Malacca-Singapore route due to technical issues, among others.

It is postponing Singapore flights from Kota Baru, Kelantan, and Alor Star, Kedah, due to the absence of refuelling activities at the airports.

FlyFirefly Sdn Bhd managing director Eddy Leong said the Malacca flights have been postponed as it needed to re-strategise to meet the request by the Malacca state authorities for Indonesian routes, rather than into Singapore.

"Malacca Airport also currently has no ground handler and refuelling facilities, which we would need to address in order to activate the airport in a significant manner," he told Business Times.

Last week, Bernama reported that Firefly had aborted plans to fly the Malacca-Singapore route.

Malacca Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Ali Rustam said the airline had withdrawn and put the blame on the state government for failure to promote the Malacca-Singapore sector.

"Firefly also expects a RM70 incentive from the state government on seats not sold," he had said, adding that the amount to be absorbed by the state authorities was unreasonable.

Leong, however, has clarified that Firefly does not operate on a subsidised basis and said the chief minister was misinformed.

"When we operate new secondary routes where traffic is thin and a lot of developmental efforts are involved, we request that stakeholders such as the state government, hoteliers and tourism operators contribute in marketing support to drive passenger traffic," he said.

In most cases, hotels and travel agents will offer lower rates and combined with Firefly's fares, they would create attractive packages.

"On our part, we will invest significantly in advertisement, promotion and marketing activities. Where the initial cost is significant, we seek the support of state governments to ease the burden."

Firefly plans to meet the chief minister to table a new proposal where it plans to fly to many points in Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore, from Malacca.

Leong said Firefly's collaboration with the Perak Government on the Ipoh-Singapore flights which began last month is progressing well.

"We are now planning to increase the frequency of our four times a week to daily flights from September 1 and this is now pending approval from the relevant authorities," he said.

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