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Firefly Airlines

Firefly airlines is a new Malaysian no-frills airline (they call themselves a "community airline"), which started flights in April 2007. The only other Malaysian low-cost airliner is AirAsia Berhad.

 

There was some controversy over the choice of the name Firefly, with some feeling a better brand-name could have been chosen. A Malaysian Airlines employee said on an internet forum that the name Firefly was meant to be 
”evocative, emotive and unique”.

On their website Firefly Airlines describes a Firefly as being
"Agile, Brilliant, Charm & Fun".

Earlier, the name was rumoured to be Asmara Air.

Firefly Airlines routes

Firefly Airlines is the only airline connecting Malaysia's northern Penang state, Koh Samui and Phuket (in Thailand).

Penang - Kota Bahru (twice daily)

Penang - Langkawi (twice daily)

Penang - Kuantan (twice daily)

Penang - Kuala Terengganu (twice daily)

Penang - Phuket (daily, from 13 April)

Penang - Koh Samui (daily, from 15 April)

"In the long run, it is hoped that Firefly expands further and contributes to the development and growth of the Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand growth triangle (IMT-GT)", Malaysian Transport Minister Datuk Seri Chan Kong Choy (15 March 2007).

Idris Jala, Malaysia Airlines' managing director, speaking at a business briefing and launch of the new airline’s logo on the 16th March 2007, said Firefly Airlines would also work with the national carrier in breaking new ground and realising a core network over the next five years. The core network would include markets like North America, South America and South Africa.

Fax's unusual offer to Firefly Airlines

In a highly unusual move, Fly Asian Xpress (FAX) offered to hand over its rural routes to Firefly Airlines. FAX director Datuk Tony Fernandes disclosed the offer to the public on the 11th April 2007. Minister Datuk Seri Chan Kong Choy said the Transport Ministry had asked for the offer to be put in writing and emphasised that irrespective of who operated the rural service, the Malaysian Government would continue to provide subsidy for the flights.  “That is our commitment that we have made to the rural folk in Sabah and Sarawak,” said the Minister.

Unveiling ceremony

From left) Chief Minister Tan Sri Dr Koh Tsu Koon, Second Finance Minister Tan Sri Nor Mohamed Yakcop and chief executive officer Idris Jala admiring the logo for Firefly at the logo
unveiling ceremony in Penang.

Firefly Airline's tickets

Firefly Airlines started accepting bookings from Monday the 19th March 2007. Tickets can be purchased from its 24-hour call centre, 03-7845 4543 or at MAS ticketing offices. Firefly Airlines plan on offering more than 2,000 free seats during April. Travellers can book their FREE seats from 19 Mar 2007 until 30 Apr 2007. The travelling period is from the 2nd April 2007 to the 30th April 2007, and are subject to the following:

Limited seats, one-way fare

Excludes taxes and fees

Foreign taxes and fees subject to currency exchange rates

Full payment upon confirmation of purchase

Name change is not permitted;

Charges applicable for change of flights and dates;

Passengers to ensure all documents are secured;

Firefly reserves the right to deny boarding of passengers without proper documentations;

Subject to Firefly Airlines Terms and Conditions of Carriage

Firefly Airlines' website

Initially there were wonders about where Firefly Airlines website would be. The website is NOT www.firefly.com.my, www.flyfirefly.com.my, www.flyfirefly.com or www.firefly.com (www.firefly.com.my is under construction, www.flyfirefly.com.my is an empty web-page, www.flyfirefly.com is also a site under construction whilst www.firefly.com is a mobile phone site). Innovatively, Firefly Airlines chose www.fireflyz.com.my as their website (not www.fireflyz.com or www.fireflys.com or www.fireflys.com.my). Tickets will be available from their website from mid-May 2007.

Given that most airline tickets are sold online, Firefly Airlines have been criticised for the fact that they chose a brandname for which they don't own the url to (firefly.com is owned by no less than Microsoft and firefly.com.my was taken). The url fireflyz.com.my has also been criticised as the use of a "z" instead of an "s" on the internet, is often understood to mean an underground service is being offered.

Firefly Airlines planes

Two Fokker F50 turboprop powered aircraft (owned by Malaysia Airline's parent company Penerbangan Malaysia Bhd.). The Fokker 50 can carry around 50 passengers over a range of 2000 km at a speed of some 500 km/h. The aircraft were chosen for economic reasons. Malaysia Airlines have flown Fokker F50s in the past, for example in rural areas in Sarawak. The plane is typically manned by 4 crew members - 2 cabin crew and 2 pilots.   Firefly Airline's cabin staff wear brown trousers and black t-shirts with the Firefly logo.  The seats in the Fokker F50 are divided into 2 sides, with 2 seats on each side and an aisle down the centre.  There is one toilet on board at the front left of the aircraft. 

Fokker F50 safety

There have been some concerns about the Fokker F50's safety. When looking at the history of accidents of these planes, it should be borne in mind that turboprop planes (like the Fokker F50) tend to be operated in more marginal environments (for example, smaller airfields, perhaps with less advanced navigational aids). Turboprops tend, historically, to be operated by smaller, less financially secure and technically advanced airlines, where the management has a less developed culture of safety. There is sometimes less stringent safety or regulatory oversight governing such operations. Flight crews tend to be less experienced (as they get older, they move onto jet equipment). These circumstances may lead to the impression that turboprops are more dangerous. But one needs to keep in mind the operating environments where they tend to be found.

 
Turbulence

Something to be aware of when flying on a turboprop is that you feel turbulence in much higher levels than on a jet, but this is only because of the lower speeds at which a turboprop flies.

Fatal accidents

Malaysian Airlines (which own Firefly Airlines) had flown 1.8 million flights by the end of 2004, and 2 of those flights had fatal accidents. One of those fatal accidents was a hijacked B737 in 1977 (MH653), and the other was a Fokker F50 in 1995 (MG2133).

Firefly Airlines launched to monetise Fokkers?

There has been some speculation that the reason for Firefly Airlines starting was that MAS was trying to find some way to use its Fokker F50s, which had been up for sale as recently as 23 January 2007 (9M-MGK sn:20248) by Penerbangan Malaysia (owner of all MAS aircraft).

Other users of Fokker F50s

SAS Norge (full name SAS Scandanavian Airlines Norge) has 6 Fokker F50s in its fleets.

Firefly Airline's first flights

Firefly Airline's inaugural flight was from Subang Sultan Abdul Aziz Shah airport to Penang International Airport, on the 2nd April 2007. Firefly Airline's first commercial flight was from Malaysia's northern Penang state to Kota Bahru, the capital of the northern Kelantan state; on tuesday the 3rd April 2007.

Firefly Airline's operators

Firefly airlines will be operated by Malaysia Airlines' wholly owned subsidiary, FlyFirefly Sdn. Bhd., which was formerly known as Kelas Services Sdn. Bhd.

Firefly Airline's license

The Department of Civil Aviation Malaysia issued the Air Services License and Air Operator's Certificate to Firefly effective from 17 March 2007. In the photo on the left we see Transport Minister Datuk Seri Chan Kong Choy presenting Firefly Airline's operating licence to MAS managing director Idris Jala in Putrajaya
on the 16th March 2007.

Firefly Airline's base

Firefly Airline's base is at Penang International Airport (also known as Bayan Lepas International Airport, PEN). Penang is a northern state of Malaysia. The airport is located 16km (10 miles) south of Georgetown, the capital city of Penang. The aero bridge at Penang International Airport cannot be used for the Fokker 50 as the plane is smaller (so one has to walk along the ground).

Firefly Airline's management

Firefly Airline's Chief Executive Officer and managing director is is Eddy Leong, and their Chief Financial Officer is Mohd Sukri Husin.

Firefly Airline's offices

Principal Office
Operation Centre

FlyFirefly Sdn Bhd,
1st Floor, Admin Building 1,
Complex A, Sultan Abdul Aziz Shah Airport,
47200 Subang,
Selangor, Malaysia

Firefly Operations Centre
Mezzanine Floor,
Bayan Lepas International Airport,
11900 Penang,
MALAYSIA

Firefly Airline's owners

Firefly Airlines is owned by Malaysia Airlines.

Airliners operating in Malaysia

With Firefly Airlines having joined the stable, Malaysia has six airlines. The others are Malaysia Airlines, AirAsia, Berjaya Air, Transmile and Fly Asian Xpress.

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