Malaysian ATR turboprop operator Firefly Airlines plans to start jet operations during next year’s first quarter, adding as many as 10 narrowbodies in three phases as parent company Malaysia Aviation Group (MAG) moves to complement international service from struggling flag carrier Malaysia Airlines and satisfy domestic demand from the north of the country. Under the plans, Firefly will serve domestic, ASEAN, and Asia-Pacific markets out of Penang International Airport, possibly using Malaysia Airlines Boeing 737-800s.
“Based on available forecasts, domestic and short-haul travel will be most preferred in the current environment, hence it makes commercial sense for Firefly to supply this demand but from the northern region,” said Malaysia Aviation Group CEO Izham Ismail. “This is in line with the group’s enhanced long-term business plan (LTBP 2.0), which has been realigned to suit the current and future environment post-Covid-19, with a focus on strengthening the revenue streams of each subsidiary.”
Plans call for Firefly to complement Malaysia Airlines’s leisure market service while diversifying its base connecting secondary cities in Malaysia to East Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, and Singapore. Malaysia Airlines would then focus on premium markets.
With the new jet operations, Firefly will offer what MAG calls a flexible service concept with product unbundling to suit the leisure-focused and price-sensitive customers. The group added that the establishment of Firefly’s Penang hub jet operations requires “minimal investment” by MAG in 2021 and that it expects the move to increase available seat kilometers by 36 percent over the next five years at Penang.
“The world has evolved so much since Covid-19, and as airlines, we must embrace those changes and adapt to the market needs and wants,” said Firefly CEO Philip See. “Firefly is ready to carry that challenge, as we see strong potential in this dual hub strategy while maintaining our turbo-propeller service out of Subang Skypark, serving the mix of corporate and leisure travelers.”