Firefly entered an agreement with Melaka Air to provide air services out of Melaka International Airport. The deal paves the way for the Malaysian low-cost carrier to station an ATR72-500 aircraft in Melaka and mount flights to the Malaysian hubs of Penang and Kota Bahru, and three destinations in Indonesia – Batam, Pekanbaru and Medan. Operations commence on 11 November 2011.
Firefly’s Managing Director, Eddy Leong said; “We had intended to start our operations in Melaka earlier but we had to wait for the expansion of our aircraft fleet. Now we are in a position to support the Melaka Chief Minister’s vision of expanding tourism accessibility into the state.
“In November, we will take delivery of our 11th and 12th ATR aircraft, of which one aircraft has been specifically designated to be stationed in Melaka. We will also set up a full operation support services in Melaka which will include aircraft maintenance, ground-handling and fuel services. Soon, there will also be an airport ticketing office in Melaka.
“If this collaboration with Melaka Air proves to be successful, we have the capability to also offer in the future our Boeing jet aircraft which has a larger seat capacity of 189.”
The ATR72-500 turboprop aircraft to be stationed in Melaka is a brand new plane, and one of 10 ATRs the airline uses to serve domestic and regional routes out of Subang and Penang. The aircraft is laid out in a 72-seat, single class configuration.
Leong added that Firefly was targeting different market segments on different routes. “We are targeting the Health Tourism and Business Events segments especially from Pekanbaru, Medan and Batam in Indonesia to visit Melaka,” he said.
“Our thrice weekly flights from Melaka to Penang will connect two UNESCO World Heritage Cities. The convenience of affordable air travel is certain to attract more domestic and foreign tourists to visit both destinations. Melaka and Penang share more than just a rich, colonial historical past, but also diverse cultures and good food. It is also a good combination for leisure tourists who are keen on combining a historical city with a beach holiday. With the Melaka – Kota Bharu route, we hope to attract traffic from the business, leisure and visit friends and relatives segment.”
Yesterday afternoon, Firefly’s special chartered flight flew a full load of 72 travel agents and media from Medan and Malaysia. The chartered service, utilising the ATR72-500 aircraft, left Subang Skypark Terminal at 1515 and arrived at Melaka International Airport an hour later. On arrival, passengers were warmly greeted by the Malacca Chief Minister, Hj Mohd Ali bin Mohd Rustam and other dignitaries.
Services connecting Melaka to Batam, Pekanbaru and Medan will all run four times a week, on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays. Flights to Penang and Kota Bahru meanwhile, will run three times a week (Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays).