Malindo Air will operate two ATR 72-600s on behalf of Royal Brunei Airlines under its new 'RB Link' regional operation.

Malindo was picked to "ensure a good fit between the market sizes and seat capacity requirements", Royal Brunei says, and the initial ACMI agreement will run for two years.

Royal Brunei has identified Balikpapan, Bintulu, Sandakan, Sibu and Tawau as the first destinations it plans to serve with the ATRs. These services will be subject to government approvals.

Royal Brunei's chief executive Karam Chand disclosed the turboprop plans in a June 2018 interview, where he said the selected partner would fly services on its behalf under a feeder arrangement. He had also ruled out the airline operating smaller aircraft other than Airbus narrowbodies and Boeing 787s.

Chief commercial officer Martin Aeberli says there are 10 cities in Borneo with a population greater than 300,000 that RB Link could operate to. It could also consider operating services to southern Philippines and boosting frequencies to existing destinations such as Kuching and Kota Kinabalu in Malaysia.

"The ATR typically is an airplane for shorter sectors, so the focus will be Borneo Island, no doubt. Having said this, there are some other interesting spots which we could serve under the concept of RB Link," he says.

The airline could use fifth freedom traffic rights granted under the East ASEAN Growth Area subregional economic cooperation initiative, but Aeberli stressed that "this will not be a priority."

"Having said this, we will also monitor the markets for opportunities and should any fifth-freedom opportunity pop up, we would certainly at least look into it," he adds.

Source: Cirium Dashboard