SEPANG: AirAsia Sdn Bhd flew in its first fully owned Boeing 737-300 at KL International Airport (KLIA) on Thursday noting it as a landmark event for the two-year-old low-fare airline.
The plane flew in from Seletar Airport in Singapore where it had undergone RM12mil upgrading works which involved the plane being literally taken apart and put together again.
AirAsia chief executive Tony Fernandes told reporters after arriving on the flight from Seletar that among the works done on the almost nine-year-old plane were installation of leather seats and other safety features.
He said the leather seats were of a new design which made it more comfortable in line with the airline's efforts to provide better services at low fare rates.
The newly purchased plane made its maiden run from KLIA to Tawau at 6pm yesterday.
Fernandes said all the aeroplanes used by the company before this had been leased from General Electrics (GE) for between RM90,000 and RM150,000 per month per plane and the company expected to save at least 10% on costs with the purchase.
Fernandes, however, refused to disclose the purchase price of the plane but added that AirAsia had obtained it at below market price from GE.
He said the Boeing 737 it had bought was the tenth one to be used by the company and it would continue to expand its fleet of planes, thanks to the overwhelming support from travellers.
He said the company expected to have 24 planes by June and 30 planes by the end of next year.
Fernandes said the airline would not be able to use Seletar Airport for its Boeing 737 due to the shorter runway and would instead fly to Senai Airport in Johor.
He said if the airport lengthened its runway, AirAsia would be interested to start flights to the country but added that it often took a long time for a runway to be extended.
He said the company for now was concentrating on the new routes that it would be servicing soon such as the Johor Baru-Langkawi, Johor Baru-Miri and KLIA-Thailand.
He said the company was also holding talks with Perak on the possibility of starting flights between Johor Baru and Ipoh.
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