Thursday April 12, 2007
FAX: Let Firefly take over
By WONG SAI WAN
KUALA LUMPUR: FAX has made a dramatic offer to the Government – that the newly launched Firefly airline takes over the operations of all rural air services.
FAX director Datuk Tony Fernandes said he made the proposal to Transport Minister Datuk Seri Chan Kong Choy yesterday as “it was the logical thing to do.”
“We were thrilled with the launch of Firefly and it is now time that the country has a national turbo-prop airline that operates all the Fokker and Twin Otter aircraft.
“I was just waiting for the right time to make the proposal,” he said.
Fernandes said FAX would soon be launching the long-haul AirAsia X operations and “it would be too distracting for us to also operate turbo-propeller aircraft as well.”
FAX, a company that shares common directors with AirAsia, took over the rural air services operations from Malaysia Airlines (MAS) under the national air route rationalisation exercise last year.
Firefly, a subsidiary of MAS, was launched two weeks ago and operates turbo-prop aircraft to various domestic and regional destinations from its base in Penang.
It has started flights to Kuala Terengganu and Kota Baru.
Firefly is also set to fly to Koh Samui in southern Thailand next month.
Fernandes stressed that with the imminent launch of AirAsia X operations, it was imperative that FAX be allowed to concentrate on its long-haul flights.
FAX is operating the rural air services routes with eight turbo-propeller aircraft belonging to Penerbangan Nasional Berhad (PNB).
“There will be no asset transferring problem and PNB can also make the same arrangement for Firefly. As for staff, they can either be absorbed into FAX, AirAsia or even be taken on by Firefly,” said Fernandes.
On when he expected a reply from the Government, he said he hoped that a decision could be made as soon as possible.