Firefly, Malaysia Airlines' turboprop operation, has confirmed plans to expand its services out of Singapore to another four Malaysian cities in 2009 and two more in 2010.

The airline will begin operations between the two neighbours on 1 July with thrice-daily flights from Singapore to Kuala Lumpur-Subang, and increase this to four-times-daily from 12 July.

It will then start four-times-weekly flights from Singapore to Ipoh on 12 July, thrice-weekly flights to Kuala Terengganu on 14 July, thrice-weekly flights to Kuantan on 22 July, and four-times weekly flights to Malacca on 1 September, says a Firefly spokesman. It will operate its ATR 72-500 aircraft on these routes.

"There has been a lot of interest in passengers for flights to cities such as Ipoh, Kuala Terengganu and Kuantan, and we believe that these will be very popular routes," he adds.

The airline plans to begin flights to the north Malaysian cities of Kota Bahru and Alor Star in 2010, but the spokesman says that there are no plans to fly to cities such as Penang. "Our parent MAS already has several flights there and it is well served by our competitors. So we don't think that will be a lucrative market."

Malaysia and Singapore had a highly restrictive air services agreement until early last year, when low-cost airlines were given limited rights to operate between Singapore and Kuala Lumpur. Later in the year, low-cost airlines also won rights to start operating between Singapore and points in East Malaysia. Soon after that, all restrictions were lifted on services between Singapore and Kuala Lumpur.

Earlier this year, they have signed a new air services agreement opening new routes and allowing more carriers to operate between the two countries.

Source: Air Transport Intelligence news