MAG to fly narrowbody aircraft out of Subang Airport in June?

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia Aviation Group (MAG) will participate in Sultan Abdul Aziz Shah (SAAS) Airport's ambition to resume jet operations as early as June this year. 

However, MAG group managing director Datuk Captain Izham Ismail did not share which of the group's airline units – Malaysia Airlines Bhd or FlyFirefly Sdn Bhd – will operate narrowbody aircraft out of the airport. 

"MAG will participate (in the resumption of jet operations out of SAAS airport). We can't reveal at the moment whether it'll be Malaysia Airlines or Firefly but we'll participate from the airport," he told Business Times in an interview recently. 

He added that the destinations that either of the two airlines would fly to would be domestic destinations and Asean countries. 

Currently, only Firefly operates out of Subang Airport with its turboprop aircraft while Malaysia Airlines' home base is Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) Terminal 1. 

Malaysia Airlines only operates narrowbody and widebody aircraft while Firefly operates narrowbody and ATR turboprops. 

Izham said the current aircraft slots at Subang Airport are for ATRs while airlines that want to operate jets out of the 59-year-old airport would have to bid for new slots. 

He also said Firefly will continue operating its ATRs out of the airport until the completion of Subang Airport's phase one development which will see the cessation of turboprop operations. 

"Our current slots are only for ATR slots. We have to bid for the fresh slots (for jet operations). Once the bidding for the new slots open, MAG would have to bid for it," he said.

Izham added that SAAS airport operator Malaysia Airports Holdings Bhd (MAHB) would allow MAG to convert its ATR slots to jets once phase one of the airport development is in place. 

On March 14, MAHB told Business Times that narrowbody aircraft operations will resume as early as June this year at Subang Airport as the airport is being expanded to handle more passengers and jet operations.

The resumption comes 26 years after all jet operations were moved to KLIA in 1998. 

MAHB senior general manager for strategy Megat Ardian Wira Mohd Aminuddin said the phase one development includes building up to five parking bays for narrowbody aircraft and six for ATRs. 

He said Subang Airport would be able to handle single-aisle aircraft types such as Boeing 737s, Airbus A320s and A321s once the phase one project, which started in December 2023, is completed.

Megat Ardian also said MAHB is working with the Civil Aviation Authority of Malaysia to offer airport slots to airlines that are interested in operating out of the Subang Airport. 

He said the current airlines, such as Firefly and Batik Air Malaysia Sdn Bhd, that are operating out of the SAAS airport could keep their existing airport slots and apply for new ones if they want to.

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