Defunct Eaglexpress to be revived

By SHAHEERA AZNAM SHAH / Pic By ISMAIL CHE RUS

The president of the now-defunct Eaglexpress Air Charter Sdn Bhd, Captain Azlan Zainal Abidin, will submit an air service licence (ASL) application to start a new airline with US$100 million (RM403 million) capital expenditure next month.

Azlan said the application will be made following the revocation of the airline’s air service permit (ASP) by the Malaysian Aviation Commision (Mavcom) in 2016.

The ASL will allow the new company to operate charter service and fixed-scheduled commercial flights by July.

“We are in the middle of concluding the investors for a new airline before proceeding to submit the ASL application under a new name.

“We will be emulating Eaglexpress’ business operation, which will be based on the wet lease concept encompassing airline, crew, maintenance and insurance which caters for haj and umrah travels, as well as cargo and freight services,” he said at a press conference in Kuala Lumpur yesterday.

He added that the new airline is expected to commence its inaugural flight ferrying 25,000 and 28,000 umrah travels by as early as October 2018.

“For cargo and freight services, we would have to study the viability of venturing into the services to ensure a sustained demand,” he said.

Operation-wise, Azlan said the new airline will encompass four to five used aircraft, ranging between Boeing 777, Boeing 747 and Airbus A330, with an average age of 10 years.

“For starters, we would not jump to big numbers. We are planning to set aside between US$10 million and US$12 million to acquire three aircraft as an immediate plan.

“Boeing 747 is a good vessel to use for umrah and haj due to its seat capacity,” he said.

While still in operation, Eaglexpress mostly operated chartered umrah and haj flights between Malaysia and Saudi Arabia, and other pilgrim flights out of Africa, the Middle East and other parts of South-East Asia.

Azlan said he plans to revisit some of the routes abandoned by Malaysia Airlines Bhd (MAB) for the new airline’s commercial flights — with South Africa and South America being the most feasible.

“In the past, MAB has abandoned many routes, such as to South Africa, Argentina and Manchester.

“With my 33 years experience with MAB, we plan to revisit these routes, but we need the government support for that,” he said.

In December 2016, Mavcom revoked Eaglexpress’ ASP as it did not meet the statutory requirement of having a minimum of RM30 million in its account.