Firefly eyes fleet expansion

PETALD,Ki JAVA: Firefly is looking to expand its fleet size by acquiring more aircraft, said chief operating officer Ignatius Ong.

However, that hinged on its load factor improving to an average 89% from some 60% to 65% now, Ong told StarBiz “We want to expand Firefly in the long term, and one of the things we are considering is new-generation turboprops. But they will probably not come onto the market for anoth-er five years. ‘In the meantime, we could lease some aircraft,” he said at a briefing on Firefly’s participation in the upcoming KL Matta Fair.

Ong also refuted claims that the turboprop airline was quitting the local aviation scene to make way for AirAsia Bhd, which had in August signed a share-swap deal with Firefly owner Malaysia Airlines (MAS). “We are here to stay, and here to grow: just to be clear, Firefly has never been a low-cost carrier. We are a community airline, and our key selling point is the convenience of the airport we are based in. “Subang is not really a low-cost airport as it caters to business travel-lers. The only thing we rationalised was the jet services flying out of KLIA. Our turboprop flights are intact. “We are not ceasing operations to accommodate AirAsia. I think there was a little bit of miscommunication” he said.

For this year’s KL Matta Fair, Firefly is targeting a 20% increase in sales to IZML2miL Ong stressed that this Was achievable despite the .gloomy forecasts for global air travel. “The idea is to generate demand, and I think with the right price and package, a lot of people are willing (to travel). There is a lot of pent-up demand. The 70% target is actually con-servative. We are looking at 20% and above, minimum,” he added.

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