Malaysia Airlines to buy 36 turboprop planes






KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia Airlines on Tuesday said it will buy 36 new ATR turboprop aircraft for 3.0 billion ringgit ($916 million) as it looks to further expand its regional and domestic networks.

Of the 36 ATR-72-600 planes, the carrier said 20 will go to subsidiary Firefly, which is fast expanding its lucrative routes, while 16 are for MASwings which flies to Sarawak and Sabah on Borneo island.

The purchase comes after struggling flag carrier Malaysia Airlines in November said it had swung back to a profit, ending six straight quarterly losses after slashing unprofitable routes to cut costs.

Malaysia Airlines group CEO Ahmad Jauhari Yahya said Firefly is expected to rapidly expand within the next five years, thanks to growing demand in Asia.

"The additional aircraft will be utilised to continue growing Firefly's network and providing customers with more travel options," said Ahmad Jauhari, who signed the deal with Filippo Bagnato, chief executive of French-Italian firm ATR.

The aircraft are slated to be delivered from the end of the second quarter of 2013.

Launched in April 2007, Firefly provides connections to various points within Malaysia, Thailand, Singapore and Indonesia's Sumatra.

Firefly currently has 12 ATR-72-500 aircraft while MASwings operates 10 similar aircraft.

- AFP/al



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