SINGAPORE, April 23 — Fancy a flight to Malacca? No sooner would you get on a jet than you would have to get off, you might say. But not with turbo-prop airline Firefly, which will soon ply the route.

The Malaysia Airlines budget carrier, which operates from Subang Airport, has also obtained permits to fly between Singapore and Ipoh, Kuantan, Penang and Kuala Terengganu.

Meanwhile, Singapore-based Jetstar Asia and Tiger Airways said yesterday that they will launch flights between Singapore and Langkawi and Penang this year.

“Jetstar Asia was given flying rights approval by the Air Traffic Rights Committee today to commence services to Penang and Langkawi in Malaysia,” Jetstar said in a statement.

The airline already operates between Singapore and KL, Kuching and Kota Kinabalu. The latest two routes are its 17th and 18th destinations.

Tiger Airways has also been given approval to start flights between Singapore and Langkawi and Penang. The Singapore Airlines subsidiary, like Jetstar, already flies to KL and East Malaysia.

AirAsia is getting in on the act, too.

The moves come after Singapore and Malaysia decided to fast-track air liberalisation, which started tentatively last year.

Firefly is the most interesting entrant so far. Its managing director Eddy Leong said the five-plane carrier will start the Subang-Singapore route in June, with 28 flights a week.

The use of Subang — the former international airport that is less than half an hour from KL — gives Firefly an advantage over other carriers that use KL International Airport, which is over an hour from KL at Sepang.

“We got approval today from the (Malaysian) Transport Ministry and we also have been approved as the designated airline to fly into Singapore,” Leong said yesterday.

Penang-Singapore services will start in June, followed by Terengganu-Singapore, Kuantan-Singapore and Ipoh-Singapore in July. The four-times weekly Malacca-Singapore hop will start in September.

Firefly, which was set up in April 2007 by MAS to counter AirAsia, operates five ATR 72-500 turbo-prop aircraft and expects to get two more planes this year. — Business Times Singapore

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