Firefly upbeat on breaking even on resuming Singapore flights

A Firefly ATR 72-500 airplane approaches to land at Changi International Airport in Singapore. — Reuters pic
A Firefly ATR 72-500 airplane approaches to land at Changi International Airport in . — Reuters pic

SINGAPORE, April 21 — ’s premium short-haul airline Firefly says it is confident it could break even relatively fast after resuming its services to Singapore via Seletar Airport.

Chief executive officer Philip See said the airline, which caters mostly to business and corporate customers, would there on move to sustainable profitability in “a very relatively short period of time.”

It was reported that it has incurred ‘significant’ loss following its suspension of flights to Singapore from Dec 1, 2018.

Singapore was the airline’s second largest route after Penang. It previously had 10 slots of flights (in-bound and outbound) every day between Subang International Airport and Changi Airport in Singapore.

“We can’t disclose the actual financial performance but for us we always operate 12 aircraft. For the  turbo prop business the asset is very key utilising the asset is critical so Singapore is key to enable us to do that,” he said after a welcome ceremony to mark Firefly’s inaugural landing at Seletar Airport here today.

The ceremony was attended by Malaysian Transport Minister Anthony Loke and his Singapore counterpart Khaw Boon Wan.

Some 72 passengers were on board the Firefly FY3126 from Subang to Seletar, together with Loke and his accompanying delegation which was later greeted by Khaw.

Asked whether Firefly would consider other destinations, See said: “That is what we want to do.”

“We just started two daily flights (here). We are going to move to six. We will monitor the performance and then we are going to see how we want to grow later,” he said.

Firefly will operate a twice-daily Subang-Seletar service, using ATR 72-500 turboprops, from today to April 28, and will increase it to six daily flights from April 29.

“Definitely, we see the nature of the airport it is such a great airport. So much opportunity for us to grow. The question for us now is how do we grow it sustainably and in a way build awareness. This is something we are going to commit to investing in the coming weeks and months.”

On expanding the fleet, See noted that “it is something that we actively look at.”

“We will monitor these six daily flights carefully. If there is room for expansion we will proceed to do that.”

“We are happy to be back again at Seletar. Our customers always love our Subang-Singapore route because it is so convenient. We are more excited to be in Seletar,” he added.

On the cost to outfit the aircraft with the new Global Positioning System (GPS) approach procedures, See said Firefly is waiting to see how the bilateral conversation takes place, and will take the cue from there on a different option that it has.

Earlier at a joint press conference, Loke said that there will be a cost involved for Firefly in implementing the new instrument which will be rolled out within six to 12 months.

The aviation regulators of both countries will meet next week to discuss the new GPS approach.

The air disagreement first surfaced on Nov 23 last year when Firefly said it will suspend all flights to Singapore from Dec 1, 2018, the day it was supposed to move its operations from Changi to Seletar Airport.

Malaysia objected to the new Instrument Landing System (ILS) procedures for Seletar Airport, claiming that they would impose height restrictions and affect development in Pasir Gudang.

However, on April 6, Malaysia and Singapore agreed that in the spirit of bilateral cooperation, the republic will withdraw the ILS procedures for Seletar Airport while Malaysia will indefinitely suspend its permanent Restricted Area over Pasir Gudang. — Bernama

Source: The Malay Mail Online

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