Firefly, a wholly owned subsidiary of Malaysia Airlines (MAS), has completed its fleet change with five brand new ATR 72-500 aircraft, replacing the Fokker-50 used previously by the carrier.

Firefly managing director Eddy Leong said the new aircrafts would replace three Fokker-50 turbo-propeller aircrafts, leased from MAS since the launch of Firefly in April last year.

“It is indeed an emotional day for us to bid farewell to our Fokker-50s as they had served us well during the initial startup stage,” he told reporters at a Farewell to Firefly’s Fokker-50s ceremony here Sunday.

Leong said two of the Fokker-50s had been returned to MAS and MASWings -another subsidiary of MAS – while the third one would be returned to MAS on Dec 31.

“The Fokker-50 is about 19 to 20 years old…the original manufacturer of Fokker no longer produces this type of aircraft. So in terms of spare parts it is very costly and difficult. But in terms of aircraft it is still reliable and safe.

“In fact when MAS put the aircrafts for sale when we handed them over, it was snapped-up by a company in Europe because the aircraft was still used in some parts of Europe and it was in good condition,” he added.

Leong said FireFly, which received its first ATR72-500 last August, will be getting another five ATR72-500 by August next year.

“Compared to the Fokker-50, the 72-seat ATR would give us 44 percent additional revenue capacity whilst reducing operating cost by as much as 20 percent, especially on fuel and maintenance,” he said.

— BERNAMA