REGIONAL GROWTH: New aircraft part of plans to expand its routes in the East Asean region
TOULOUSE: Maswings will soon expand its operations in Sabah with the arrival of a new aircraft, the ATR72-600, on Aug 4.
Named Rafflesia, the newest aircraft will help the company increase its frequencies and open new routes in the BIMP-EAGA (Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines-East Asean Growth Area) region.
MASwings currently runs a fleet of 10 ATR72-500 aircrafts, flying domestic and international routes from Sabah and Sarawak.
Its chief executive officer, Datuk Mohd Nawawi Awang, who officially received the plane at the French-Italian aircraft manufacturer's final assembly line here on Thursday, said the 72-seater plane will arrive at Subang Airport on Monday at 4.30pm.
"It will make several stops at Cyprus, Oman and Sri Lanka before reaching Malaysia.
"Once in Subang, it will be there for several days before flying to Kota Kinabalu and we can expect it to be put in our scheduled operations from August 4.
"Besides being our first ATR-600 series plane, we are naming it Rafflesia in honour of the flower commonly found in the region MASwings operates," he said.
The new addition will enable MASwings to increase frequencies and open new routes, including to Puerto Princesa in Philippines "which we hope to start servicing around the end of October," he said.
Also present were ATR Global Sales head John Moore, Sabah Tourism Board chairman Datuk Joniston Bangkuai, Sarawak Tourism Board chief executive officer Datuk Rashid Khan, Sarawak Tourism Ministry permanent secretary and BIMP-EAGA Tourism chapter chairman Datuk Ik Pahon.
The upgraded 600 version is equipped with the widest cabin in the turbo-prop market, and the most advanced glass cockpit in the regional aircraft market.
Based on the agreement by ATR and MASwings' parent company, Malaysia Airlines, MASwings will receive another eight ATR72-600 until 2017.
Mohd Nawawi said its next ATR72-600 would be delivered to them in February next year.