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MALACCA: The State Government is eyeing four daily flights to operate from the Melaka International Airport after ongoing discussions and deals with related parties including airline companies are concluded by the first quarter of 2015.

Chief Minister Datuk Seri Idris Haron said he hoped to see the Melaka International Airport in Batu Berendam serve as a hub for medium and small commercial planes such as Boeing 737-400.

"If fully utilised, would be able to operate up to 12 flights daily from 8am until midnight.

"Currently the airport, opened by the Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak in May 2009, is the base for private flights and also used by the Malaysian Flying Academy.

"However, we are planning to change this so that we can have more commercial flights operating here," he said after meeting with Firefly Sdn Bhd's chief executive officer Ignatius Ong at his office here today.

Idris said the state government had already had discussions with several airline companies such as AirAsia, Firefly, Sriwijaya Air and Malindo Air, and the discussions were in the right direction.

"Realistically these are give-and-take discussions. We understand the airlines' problems to operate here such as airport tax but we are willing to discuss to a point where we pay part of the tax or guarantee 100 passengers per flight.

"What we have to do now is sit down with all parties and figure out how to meet the flight demand...We truly believe when done properly it will boost tourism in the state," he said.

Meanwhile, Ong said Firefly would resume its operations at the Melaka International Airport by end of this year after it ceased operations there two years ago.

"If everything goes well, we will start operations in the fourth quarter of this year with the flight frequency for each route at least three times a week.

"Destination of the flights are still pending and are in discussions, but as a start we will focus on flights within the country first," he said.

Ong said he saw Malacca as having great potential to the company. In another development, Ong said Firefly would add two new routes in September, namely Penang to Krabi, Thailand, and Kuala Lumpur to Ipoh.

"We will also receive an additional two or three new aircraft this year bringing the total number of aircraft to 17 units," he said.

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