THE MALAYSIAN OWNER of Saeaga Airlines has unveiled plans to acquire larger jet-powered aircraft and expand the ten-month-old domestic carrier internationally.

According to Malaysian tycoon and Saeaga chairman Ting Pek Khiing, the airline plans to order ten Boeing 737-700s. "We will be signing a deal with Boeing next month," he claims.

The airline had earlier looked at the Airbus A320 and McDonnell Douglas MD-90, and recently made a presentation of its plans to Malaysia's civil-aviation authority, based on using the A320.

Ting says that he wants to use the new aircraft to open up routes to Australia and Taiwan. Saeaga was established to serve the regional triangle bordering Brunei, the East Malaysian states of Sabah and Sarawak, Indonesia's Kalimantan province and the southern Philippines.

The airline has struggled to attract new investors and is only now operating ad hoc charter services with two Bombardier de Havilland Dash 8s and a Canadair Regional Jet (Flight International, 17-23 July).

The airline is understood already to have signed an agreement to lease at least one 737-400 and hopes to begin charter services to Taiwan by November.

AirAsia was originally designated by the Government as the country's second international carrier, but its launch was postponed in 1994 following pressure from Malaysia Airlines.

Source: Flight International