Malaysia Airlines is to transfer domestic operations in east Malaysia to sister unit Firefly from 16 May, as part of a “strategic route rationalisation” on its domestic network.

Parent company Malaysia Aviation Group (MAG) says Firefly will deploy its Boeing 737-800s on domestic flights within the states of Sabah and Sarawak following the transfer.


Source: Wikimedia Commons

Affected routes include between Kota Kinabalu and Sandakan, Tawau and Kuching, as well as between Kuching and Miri, says the group. Firefly will operate daily flights on the four routes, an up-gauge in capacity compared to Malaysia Airlines, which only only flies between two and five times a week with 737s.

Rival low-cost carrier AirAsia Malaysia has a larger presence in intra-east Malaysian operations. On flights between Kuching and Kota Kinabalu for instance, AirAsia operates 21 weekly flights, while Malaysia Airlines only has five flights a week.

The group adds: “The initiative represents a significant milestone in the strategic route rationalisation plan of MAG and a continuous assessment of its business operations.”

The move means mainline operator Malaysia Airlines will only fly between Peninsular Malaysia and east Malaysia, as well as domestic flights within the Malaysian peninsula. It is also the most significant change made to the airline’s domestic network since it exited restructuring in 2021. 

Firefly, the group’s low-cost unit, introduced jets in 2022, taking delivery of 737s which formerly operated for Malaysia Airlines. The jets are based in its Penang hub, and are configured to seat 189 passengers in a single-class layout.


Source: Firefly

Firefly is taking Boeing 737-800s from parent Malaysia Airlines

The airline is also an ATR 72 operator, with the turboprop fleet based at Subang airport in Kuala Lumpur.

MAG airlines chief Ahmad Luqman Mohd Azmi says the route rationalisation is part of efforts to “refine and improve its network and product offerings”.

“The launch of Firefly’s jet operations in 2022 has elicited a considerable response, particularly within the leisure travel sector. This continuous milestone reiterates MAG’s unwavering commitment to remain responsive to the changing demands of its customers and leverage the prevailing market conditions,” he adds.