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AirAsia, Borneo, Firefly, Malaysia, Malaysia Airlines (MAS), Sarawak, Sarawak Economy, Sarawak Tourism, Sarawakian

Firefly scraps Kuching-Kuala Lumpur flights …

WELL it is really true. Firefly has scrapped its Kuching-Kuala Lumpur route!

Now we will have no choice but to use AirAsia – for those of us who cannot afford to fly any other way.

I guess the writing was on the wall when MAS and AirAsia signed their deal the other day. Those of us who could not understand the complexities of the share swap or whatever they wish to call it still knew that we, the consumers, would somehow suffer.

What saddens me even more is that connectivity to the State will also suffer and it will affect the tourism industry too.

There were apparently up to seven flights daily between Kuching and Kuala Lumpur. And the airline reportedly had a high load factor of about 70 per cent.

According to The Star, the airline has ceased to sell Kuching-Kuala Lumpur tickets for flights after Oct 31 on its website. Those who have already purchased tickets with the airline for after Nov 1 will likely be flying MAS.

Firefly is still selling seats for its Sibu-Kuala Lumpur route for now. This is probably because MAS has pulled out of that route. Sibu folk will just have to wait and see how much longer the airline will be servicing that route.

Perhaps what Sarawak needs is its own airline!

The story from The Star:

Firefly’s Kuching-Kuala Lumpur route scrapped, with more likely to follow

By Yu Ji

KUCHING: Firefly, the two-year-old affordable wing of Malaysia Airlines (MAS), has cancelled its second route between Sarawak and Peninsular Malaysia, with more cancellations likely.

The airline has ceased to sell Kuching-Kuala Lumpur tickets for flights after Oct 31 on its website, and tour agents are aware of the cancellation.

Firefly’s Kuching ticketing office yesterday told The Star, ticket holders for flights beginning Nov 1 “will most likely be put onboard MAS”.

“That is most probably what will happen.

“That is what we are telling ticket holders for now. We are not sure of anything at this point.

“A new (flight) schedule has not been released,” said the ticketing office personnel, who declined to be named as he was not authoritised to speak on the matter.

The Kuching-Kuala Lumpur cancellation comes after Kuching-Johor was cancelled on Sept 15.

Firefly was flying three routes between Sarawak and Peninsular Malaysia (and with high frequency) around mid year.

The only Firefly route left for Sarawak is between Sibu-Kuala Lumpur.

Firefly’s website is still selling tickets for those flights.

However, a well-placed source within MAS’ Sarawak management toldThe Star yesterday that Firefly’s online ticket sales “should not be considered as an indicator of flight availability”.

“My staff and I have been told to wait for an internal announcement (that will come) by the end of this week,” the senior staff said. “We think it will be regarding the route rationalisation. Stage by stage the Firefly flights are taken off one sector at a time.”

The Malaysian aviation industry is undergoing its most extensive flight rationalisation exercise in recent weeks. This follows the surprise announcement of a MAS-AirAsia shareswap deal in August.

Since then, it has been an open secret that Firefly’s jet aircraft routes would be scrapped. Media reports have said it was not a matter of “if” but “when”.

Sarawak Tourism Federation president Audry Wan Ullok, when asked about this yesterday, said talk was that Firefly would cease all jet aircraft routes by November.

She said the deal to end such a large portion of Firefly’s operations – this is according to her sources in the state Tourism and Heritage Ministry – was brokered and finalised over the recent Hari Raya.

Audry’s predecessor Datuk Wee Hong Seng, who still heads the Malaysia Tourism Council at a sub- Asean association, said the same. State authorities The Star tried to contact yesterday, including the Sarawak Tourism Board (STB) and the ministry, refused to comment on the matter.

Nonetheless, since a month ago, STB chief executive Datuk Rashid Khan – who was MAS commercial director during Datuk Seri Idris Jala’s tenure and still has close ties with the national air carrier – has publicly said that under the shareswap deal “eventually something will have to give in”.

Separately, the Tourism and Heritage Minister Datuk Amar Abang Johari Tun Openg is said to have told private sector members that the shareswap, “would see the death of Firefly”.

Efforts to get Firefly to reply to media enquiries have been difficult. In September, its public relations officer wrote to The Star saying announcements on flight rationalisation could only be issued by parent company MAS.

Firefly’s flights to Sarawak have been the first to be axed. When the Kuching-Johor route was ended, ticket holders were offered either a full refund or Kuching-Kuala Lumpur-Johor flights.

The affordable airline has never issued any media statements on such developments. In fact, the recent cancellations are not even clearly stated on its official website, aside from the inability to purchase tickets on affected flights.

The closest thing to official statements on the cancellations have been from Firefly’s Facebook page.

Responding to a Kuching-Kuala Lumpur ticket holder’s complaint on Facebook, Firefly replied: “We regret to inform you that Kul-Kch-Kul are not available for sale after October at present. We apologise for any inconvenience caused.”



One thought on “Firefly scraps Kuching-Kuala Lumpur flights …

  1. And the countdown begins…as to when Mr AirAsia officially takes charge of MAS. Or will AirAsia become our new national carrier? For Sarawakians, all we can hope for is we won’t be screwed all over again, as we were during the “rationalisation” exercise in 2006. Think about FAX. Lest we forget!

    Posted by rimau atas kerusi | September 28, 2011, 09:48

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