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Saturday January 28, 2012

Eaglexpress strikes first deal worth RM35mil

KUALA LUMPUR: Newly-launched airline company Eaglexpress Air Charter Sdn Bhd has struck its first deal of RM35mil with a travel agent to roll out haj and umrah flights from March to September.

Eaglexpress will provide 31 flight services to travel agent Noz Usaha Sdn Bhd for its pilgrimage travel packages from Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.

The airline will carry 15,000 passengers under the pilgrimage packages by Noz Usaha, a subsidiary of Singapore-based Muhammadiyah Travel & Tours Sdn Bhd.

At this point, the air charter airline has only one aircraft, a Boeing 747-400, with a seating capacity of 450 passengers. The company is looking to purchase two more aircraft by April in a vision to have 20 planes in the next three to five years.

Eaglexpress executive chairman Tan Sri Aseh Che Mat said the agreement with Noz Usaha was unique in that the travel agent went straight for a contract signing after approaching them.

“What is special about this agreement is Noz Usaha did not even sign a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with us but went straight for an agreement. I was impressed with their number of haj and umrah customers from Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand of more than 100,000,” he said.

At the signing ceremony, he said that while Eaglexpress was not able to accommodate the customer base at the moment, he hoped that the partnership between Eaglexpress and Noz Usaha would last.

He added that there were interested parties from the Asean region to partner with the air charter but nothing was concrete yet.

He revealed that there were several MoUs lined up to be converted into contracts.

As for Eaglexpress' total capacity, Aseh said it was premature to set any figure considering the company was still expanding.

“There are plans to buy more Boeing 747 planes, perhaps four Boeing 737-400 aircraft and subsequently Boeing 747 freighters, all of this hopefully by year-end,” he said.

Eaglexpress, launched last Thursday, is jointly owned by South Korean chief operating officer and chief financial officer Captain Shin Man Soo, chief executive Captain Azlan Zainal Abidin, Aseh and executive vice-chairman Datuk Wan Ismail Abdul Rahman. Shin has a 40% stake in the airline while the other three have equal blocks of 20% each.

The airline is currently funded by investors from South Korea, the Middle East and Malaysia and works on a business model that should see it breaking even in the second year, with a revenue of US$100mil in its first year of operations.

It operates from KLIA and will offer hajj, umrah, holiday and humanitarian charter services.

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