Firefly to set up full-fledged hub in KK in May, says Sabah Tourism Minister

KOTA KINABALU: Low-cost carrier Firefly will set up a full-fledged hub here in May, which will pave the way for the Malaysia Airlines (MAS) sister company to take over some routes from MAS.

Also in the pipeline is the introduction of direct flights connecting China destinations to Sabah later this year.

Sabah Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Christina Liew said she was recently briefed on this development by the airline’s holding company Malaysia Aviation Group (MAG) chief executive of airlines Ahmad Luqman Mohd Azmi.

Launched in April 2007, Firefly, which is a wholly-owned subsidiary of MAG, provides connections to various points within the country, southern Thailand, Singapore and Indonesia’s Sumatra, with Penang and Subang as current hubs.

"I was informed that Firefly will set up its hub here (in Kota Kinabalu) by May 15 this year, where its B738 aircraft's capacity is 189 pax.

“Upcoming plans are for the airline to operate three routes taking over from MAS, namely Kota Kinabalu-Sandakan, Kota Kinabalu-Tawau and Kota Kinabalu-Kuching.

“More importantly, the presence of a Firefly hub will facilitate direct China flights to Sabah," she said in a statement here Thursday (April 6).

She said according to Ahmad Luqman, Firefly direct flights from China to Sabah would only begin in the second quarter onwards of 2023.

"He (Ahmad Luqman) shared that for a start, they have commenced charter flights from China to Kuala Lumpur using MAS services.

“Based on their discussions with the charterers, I was told that charter flights from Xiamen to Kota Kinabalu will start once the hub is set up...and we will then have a lot more direct connectivity with China and the North Asia-Pacific," said Liew.

She added that during the meeting, Ahmad Luqman also explained the performance of MAS and another regional sister airline, MASwings, in connection with Sabah operations.

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