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Monday, 19 May 2014
By: DAVID TAN
Firefly's CEO Ignatius Ong told StarBiz that the airline was currently exploring more destinations in Southern Thailand, Sumatra, and Indo-China for flights to and from Penang and Kota Bahru. “
GEORGE TOWN: Firefly will add more than five new destinations over the next three years under its plans to expand operations in the north and east coast of the country.
Its chief executive officer Ignatius Ong told StarBiz that the airline was currently exploring more destinations in Southern Thailand, Sumatra, and Indo-China for flights to and from Penang and Kota Bahru. “More than five new destinations will be added over the next three years.
“We are interested to expand in Sumatra, as there is a big demand over there for the medical and healthcare services in Penang. In Indo-China, we are exploring the markets in Vietnam and Cambodia.
“We are keen to fly to these new destinations from Kota Bahru, as we want to strengthen our base in the east coast, where the market is untapped,” Ong added.
Ong said these additions would strengthen operations in the north and the east coast, catering to the corporate and leisure segments. “There is demand from the corporate clientele in the north to fly to new destinations overseas to host their meeting, incentive, convention, and exhibiton programmes.
Over the next three years, Firefly will take delivery of another 15 new ATR 72-600 series turboprop aircraft from France.
“As the aircraft arrive, we are looking at doubling the number of aircraft parked in Penang,” he said.
Currently, there are two Firefly aircraft parked at the Penang International Airport. “The number will be increased to four by end of 2014,” Ong said.
In late 2012, the airline placed an order for 20 ATR 72-600 series aircraft from France.
“Two of them were delivered in 2013, and this year we will get another three. The remaining 15 will arrive over the next three years.”
On its new destinations for 2014, Ong said the Ipoh-Johor and Penang-Krabi routes would start respectively on Sept 15 and 16. Ong said the Ipoh-Johor route was added because Firefly was not able to add another flight from Changi Airport to Ipoh.
Firefly will have four flights per week servicing the Ipoh-Johor route, and three flights per week for the Penang-Krabi route.
It is anticipating another 15 to 20% growth in number of passengers this year from two million in 2013.
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