Currently, Firefly only operates ATR 72 turboprops. However, this week, the Malaysia Aviation Group (MAG) announced that the carrier will commence jet operations in the first quarter of next year. The Malaysia Airlines subsidiary will add up to 10 narrowbody planes to its fleet in phases. Additions include the possibility of Boeing 737-800s.
A change of tactic
Altogether, the carrier holds 12 ATR 72s. However, it will be adding new aircraft to help serve the domestic, ASEAN, and Asia Pacific markets from Penang International.
According to a press release seen by Simple Flying, Malaysia Aviation Group CEO Captain Izham Ismail said the following about the move:
“Based on available forecasts, domestic and short haul travel will be most preferred in the current environment, hence it makes commercial sense for Firefly to supply this demand but from the northern region. This is in line with the Group’s enhanced Long-Term Business Plan (LTBP 2.0) which has been realigned to suit the current and future environment post COVID-19, with a focus on strengthening the revenue streams of each subsidiary.”
Altogether, MAG is hoping that this move will help complement Malaysia Airlines’ operations. The group wants to serve the leisure market while diversifying its base. It wants to connect secondary cities in Malaysia to East Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, and Singapore. Ultimately, the possibility of deploying the Boeing 737-800 aircraft from Malaysia Airlines will help the organization leverage resources and talents from within.
Firefly CEO Philip See said the following, as per the release:
“The world has evolved so much since COVID-19, and as airlines we must embrace those changes and adapt to the market needs and wants. Firefly is ready to carry that challenge, as we see strong potential in this dual hub strategy, while maintaining our turbo propeller service out of Subang Skypark, serving the mix of corporate and leisure travellers.”
Firefly will provide a flexible service concept with these jet services. There will be product unbundling to suit the leisure-focused and price-sensitive fliers.
Moreover, customers will continue to enjoy the privileges and services of what premium airlines would provide. For instance, they would receive a complimentary 20kg checked baggage allowance. Additionally, they will have the chance to accrue and redeem Enrich points and have options to add other benefits such as seat selection and insurance coverage.
MAG adds that this Penang hub jet requires minimal investment to set up. It expects an increase in production. This is measured in Average Seat per Kilometre (ASK) by 36% over the next half a decade.
Trying to adapt
Malaysia Airlines has been hard at work, revamping its operations across the company. Last week, it shared that it is offering its staff members the opportunity to reskill following the impact of the pandemic. Overall, this Thursday’s announcement displays the firm’s proactivity as it re-emerges from the passenger downturn. However, the business is also facing serious uncertainties amid the global health crisis.
What are your thoughts about Firefly starting jet operations in 2021? Do you think this is a good move for the carrier? Let us know what you think in the comment section.