Malaysian regional airline MASWings will re-launch as a low-cost carrier next year with the addition of Boeing 737-800s under Malaysia Airlines’ restructuring exercise, according to a senior official at the government’s strategic investment arm, Khazanah Nasional Berhad (KNB). To be based at Kota Kinabalu International Airport in the East Malaysian state of Sabah, MASWings’ jet fleet will initially consist of four aircraft leased from the open market. Plans call for MASWings to operate as an entity separate from MAS and reincorporate as a new company at a later date.
According to the KNB official, MASWings’ network will include destinations to China, within four hours of flying time from Kuching and Kota Kinabalu. KNB holds a 69.4-percent stake inMAS. “In the current scenario, it will be tough for MASWings to survive in the market as a community airline with the growing competition,” he said. The carrier currently competes with AirAsia and Malindo on several routes within Sabah and Sarawak.
Contacted for comment, a Malaysia Airlines spokesperson declined to offer any details. “Planning is still under way; as such it is still too early to comment on anything that is not concrete,” she said in a written statement to AIN. MASWings will continue operating its ATR72-500s and -600s and Viking Twin Otter fleets for domestic and rural services, respectively, after its re-launch as an LCC. The Malaysian government grants subsidies for flights to the interior of the two states where air travel is the only mode of transport.
MASWings currently operates 10 ATR 72-500s, four ATR 72-600s and five Viking Twin Otters. It expects to take another eight new ATR 72-600s through 2016.
MASWings started operations in October 2007 and now maintains a network of 22 domestic destinations. It also offers flights to Tarakan and Pontianak in Indonesia and Puetro Princessa in the Philippines.
Separately, plans call for MAS’s reorganization, slated to take place next July, to result in the independence of fellow regional subsidiary Firefly. Based at Sultan Abdul Aziz Shah Airport in Subang, 15 miles outside Kuala Lumpur, it too will operate as a separate company.