Wednesday February 27, 2013
Malindo cleared for takeoff
By B.K. SIDHU
PETALING JAYA: It's all systems go for Malindo Air, the country's second low-fare airline, now that it has obtained the air operators certificate (AOC), giving it the right to provide commercial flights out of Malaysia.
This marks a significant change to the local travel landscape, as Malindo's debut also heralds the addition of a third airline to the country's aviation sector after AirAsia and Malaysia Airlines (MAS).
Observers opined that Malindo's entry would not only ramp up competition in the market, leaving consumers spoilt for choice, but also prepare Malaysia for the ensuing competition when Asean's skies liberalise.
The AOC should also put to rest scepticism that Malindo was just a “flight of fancy” and that it would not take off. On the contrary, the airline will begin flying from March 20 to March 30, chief executive officer Chandran Ramamuthy told StarBiz.
Chandran said that with the AOC in place, the airline could now begin selling tickets. “Ticket sales should begin within this week,” he added.
“We cannot sell tickets until we have obtained the AOC,” he explained.
He said getting the AOC required “a rigorous process of certification and trials” and that “we had conducted our test flight last week, and can operate now and will firmly stick to our March launch date”.
The AOC certification was obtained yesterday from the Department of Civil Aviation, providing the airline, in one fell swoop, domestic and international rights to operate both local and foreign flights out of any airport in Malaysia.
The airline's inaugural flight will be from Kuala Lumpur to Kuching and Kota Kinabalu, a sector that holds a lot of potential ever since Firefly's jet operations ceased to operate over a year ago. This is despite the many flights offered by both AirAsia and MAS.
The airline will be operating the B737-900ER aircraft, and its first aircraft is slated to arrive on March 15 followed by the second on March 19, said Chandran.
The airline will be taking delivery of at least one aircraft every following month, translating into it having at least a dozen aircraft by the end of the year.
It would have flown to parts of South-East Asia by which time. It is also targetting to fly to China and India this year. In 10 years, Malindo would be operating a fleet of 100 aircraft.
The airline has thus far hired 100 cabin crew and pilots and has a total workforce of 160, including its management team, Chandran said.