Firefly Expands to neighbouring countries

Firefly Expands to neighbouring countries

Firefly plans new destinations to Thailand while rolling up its sleeves to improve passenger loads on existing routes.

Firefly, the Malaysian-based low-cost airline, is planning new services to Thailand, next year, from its main hub of Penang and a new hub in Johor Bahru.

At the same time, the airline hopes to find partners to tap international passengers who need a connection to destinations in Malaysia.

The airline's communications and marketing head, Angelina Corrina Fernandez, revealed at the launch of a new Kula Lumpur-Samui service that Firefly would inaugurate more services next year to Thailand.

"One is from our new hub Johor Bahru, the gateway to Singapore and one from Penang," she said.

"The first priority is a Thai destination to link with Johor Bahru. It has not been finalised yet whether it will be Samui or Phuket, while for the Penang, hub the link will most likely will be with Hua Hin."

Ms Fernandez said that Thailand appealed to Malaysians because of the close distance and it was not an expensive destination.

As for Hua Hin she added it was an untapped market, few Malaysians had travelled there.

Firefly Airlines Marketing Representative director, Santi Wongsawat, confirmed that in addition to Hua Hin the airline was studying Krabi, but it would probably by put on the back burner because AirAsia was flying that route from Malaysia.

Concerning the existing services from Penang to Samui and Phuket and Kuala Lumpur to Samui, Mr Santi said the airline needed partners to link them with international gateways.

"First of all we need code share cooperation with our mother company, Malaysia Airlines to facilitate international passengers so they can connect to Samui and Phuket via Kuala Lumpur."

Packages will also be launched for two-night stopovers. Initially, the packages will be available for the UK and German markets because Firefly has representatives there.

Code share agreement is aimed to make Malaysia a gateway to the so called Indonesia-Malaysia-Thailand Growth Triangle to make it more convenient for tourists from Europe, the US, Australia and the Middle East to explore this region.

Mr Santi added: "We will work with Bangkok Airways to connect with its flights out of Phuket and Samui. Also we hope to pick up international passengers from Samui or Phuket to Bangkok so that they can connect to international flights, without having to return to Kuala Lumpur."

Firefly will study potential traffic on the Kuala Lumpur-Samui route to decide if daily services are an option. Advance booking for the next three months represent a 68% cabin factor across the fleet. As for Penang-Samui service, traffic has picked up, running at an 85% average load factor since May.

By the end of this year, it will have five brand new ATR-72 aircraft and by August 2009, the fleet will increase to 10 ATRs. In 2009, the airline hopes to establish services from both Penang and Kula Lumpur to Singapore.