Malindo wants to fly to Seletar using turboprop planes

Airline has received approvals from the MoT and the Mavcom for the proposed additional flights

by ALIFAH ZAINUDDIN / pic by MUHD AMIN NAHARUL

MALINDO Airways Sdn Bhd is adding more flights to the world’s busiest airline international route — Kuala Lumpur (KL) to Singapore — by offering turboprop planes and flying to the Seletar Airport.

The roughly one-hour KL-Singapore sector, which saw more than 30,000 flights annually, remains a lucrative route for Malaysia’s and Singapore’s carriers. More than four million people fly on the KL-Singapore route annually as both nations are close trading partners with deep links for centuries.

Malindo Air CEO Chandran Rama Muthy (picture) said the airline has received approvals from the Ministry of Transport (MoT) and the Malaysian Aviation Commission (Mavcom) for the proposed additional flights.

He said the airline has also submitted the application which is now being reviewed by the Singaporean authorities.

“The timeline on the application process varies from each application as that involves approvals from several authorities. We have submitted the applications and the outcome will depend on the authorities’ evaluation,” Chandran told The Malaysian Reserve in an email reply recently.

The hybrid Malaysian carrier, owned by Indonesia’s Lion Air Group, currently flies four times from KL International Airport and Changi Airport Singapore.

The carrier also operates turboprop services from the Sultan Abdul Aziz Shah Airport, Subang, to destinations within a two-hour radius.

If the application is approved, Malindo is likely to fly from its turboprop service hub in Subang.

The expansion would be a boost to Malindo’s revenue stream as the carrier has yet to post a profit since it was established in 2013. Its CEO, however, is optimistic that the carrier would be in the black in one to two years’ time.

Malindo’s Subang-Seletar ambition could dent FlyFirefly Sdn Bhd’s dominance at the republic’s airport.

Firefly is the only airline flying to Seletar since its reopening to commercial services last month.

The KL-Singapore route was named as the world’s busiest international flight route for the second year running recently by OAG Aviation Worldwide Ltd, an air travel intelligence company in the UK.

It topped the list with 30,187 flights for the 12-month period, followed by Hong Kong to Taipei with 28,447 flights. Chandran said the data signified that there is high demand for KL and Singapore.

“We believe there is a potential of placing six or more daily flights to the route to tailor to the needs of travellers in this sector and we are anticipating an average 80% load factor,” Chandran said.

Following a resolution between the Malaysia and Singapore governments which resulted in a new global positioning system-based landing system for Seletar, Firefly was finally given the go-ahead to operate its flights to Seletar on April 21.

Firefly operated two daily flights from its Subang base to Seletar until April 29, when a schedule of six daily flights was implemented.

It was reported that the delay in launching Seletar had cost Firefly around US$4 million (RM16.66 million) per month. KL-Singapore is one of the airline’s biggest and most lucrative routes. The suspension of Singapore resulted in reduced utilisation for its fleet and crews.

The six daily flights also represented a reduction compared to Firefly’s operations at Changi — and what it initially planned for Seletar. Firefly in recent years served Changi with 10 daily flights, consisting of seven flights to Subang, two to Ipoh and one to Kuantan.