I REFER to the report "Firefly may revive jet ops next year" (Business Times, Sept 11).
The emergence and growth of low-cost airlines has changed the landscape of the aviation industry. The low-fare segment of the market is growing and there is ample opportunity for Firefly to revive its jet operations and take advantage of the expanding regional demand.
The airline should look at operating jet aircraft for which its parent company, Malaysia Airlines, can train pilots for the conversion. MAS Aerospace Engineering (Masae) has the capability to maintain its aircraft. This will reduce Firefly's operating costs.
Masae has grown from a small outfit supporting the national carrier's fleet to a leading global airframe heavy maintenance service provider.
As one who has been working closely with the aviation industry in the Asia-Pacifc region for the past 25 years, I am not wrong to say that the low-fare segment of the market in Malaysia and the region is big enough for another Malaysian airline to penetrate.
The report quoted Firefly chief executive officer Ignatius Ong as saying that the carrier was looking at turboprop options for its existing networks to increase frequencies as well as longer range flights within Asean to give the airline more potential destinations.
Being a community airline with a low-cost operations model, operating another turboprop-type aircraft will only put added cost on the airline with regards to training of pilots, technicians and engineers, as well as maintenance of the aircraft.
Firefly must study whether it would be financially viable to operate another turboprop type aircraft -- which Masae does not have the heavy maintenance capability -- or adding the ATR72-600 to its existing fleet of 12 ATR72-500 aircraft.