MALAYSIA Airlines (MAS) has admitted that it is tough fighting a low-cost carrier (LCC).
It has decided to use its wholly owned unit, Firefly, to take on AirAsia. Firefly will turn into a true blue LCC and use jets in the attack.
On Monday, Firefly said it would fly commercial jets for domestic routes and begin with crossover routes, e.g. Kota Kinabalu and Kuching, on Jan 15. Asean will be its next stop.
Its B737-800s will take off from KL International Airport (KLIA). Firefly wants to have a fleet of 30 aircraft in five years and that means forking out a lot of money to keep up with competition.
Perhaps parent MAS has a plan to help with the purchases. Firefly will still maintain its turboprop operations at Subang.
Firefly wants to work on a model like that of Southwest and Ryanair – the global airlines that have made it big in low-cost travel. This is also the same model that AirAsia used nine years ago and today AirAsia is a household name in many Asean countries.
Firefly is aiming to have the lowest unit cost, lower than AirAsia's 11.2 sen. And expect Firefly to follow AirAsia's example in "throwaway" fares and free seats to fill up its airplanes.
Firefly fired its first salvo this week by offering tickets for as low as RM9 for travel between Jan 15 and May 31 next year from KL to Kota Kinabalu and Kuching. Understandably, this has created some buzz about Firefly's entry to the LCC world.
The latest development means more competition and hopefully this translates to more lower fares, better quality of services and wider choices.
Flashback a decade ago when we had to pay premium prices to travel. Today, for RM1 it is possible to reach somewhere by air. Had there been no competition we would still be paying premium prices. So there is really enough room for more competition.
For Firefly, the takeoffs from KLIA mark a new beginning and the only way to go is up. For MAS, it does not need to bend backwards to fight the low fares...
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