ATR 72s vs Saab 340s on routes between Singapore and Malaysia?

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I attended the Firefly press event at Changi Airport today that was organised to promote the Malaysian turboprop operators’ new services from Malaysia to Singapore.

Rather than operating on the trunk routes, Firefly is linking secondary cities in Malaysia to Singapore. These are routes that no other carriers are operating on either because the passenger loads are too low for Airbus A320/Boeing 737s or the airport runways are unable to support such large aircraft.

Firefly operates 70-seat turboprops and its CEO, Ed Leong, said at today’s event that the carrier anticipates it will have 70-75% passenger load factors on the routes. He adds, on the Ipoh-Singapore route it has already sold 78% of its seats for July.

If Firefly can make these new routes successful, I wonder if other turboprop operators will move in. Singapore has no turboprop airlines but I wouldn’t be surprised if someone from the Singapore side decided to come in. A perfect candidate would be Singaporean Lim Kim Hai who is the chairman and major shareholder of Regional Express, Australia‘s largest regional carrier and a Saab 340 turboprop operator. Having ATR 72-500s up against Saab 340B+ aircraft would be an interesting fight.

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