Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia (4E) – Malaysia Airlines (MAS) announced on Tuesday that it is set to expand its regional and domestic routes by purchasing 36 new ATR turboprop aircraft for $916mn.
The French-Italian aircraft manufacturer ATR and MAS reached a deal for the purchase of planes through a MoU signed by both companies on Tuesday.
MAS chief executive and managing director Ahmad Jauhari Yahya said that ATR had already made commitments to ship three turboprop planes in 2013, five in 2014 and six in 2015.
The carrier said that 20 of the 36 ATR-72-600 planes will go to Firefly, a subsidiary fast expanding its lucrative network. The remaining 16 planes will go to MASwings, which has flights to Bornean routes — Sarawak and Sabah.
Ignatius Ong, Firefly’s chief executive officer said the fleet comes with the latest glass cockpit technology as seen in A380 panels while the cabin design is optimized to preserve passenger comfort.
Datuk Capt Mohd Nawawi Awang, the CEO for MASwings, hailed the timely acquisition as the company is looking to boost the number of its passengers to two million through 2015 from this year’s estimate of 1.5 million passengers.
Firefly flies out of the Subang and Penang airport hubs and has routes to several destinations in Malaysia, Thailand, Singapore and Sumatra. MASwings, on the other hand, is Malaysia’s first commuter airline and offers connections within its Bornean state flights.