New airline to fly out of Senai, Johor

flymojo targets October launch, will operate domestic and regional flights

Malaysia is starting a new airline to tap into growing demand for air travel in the region and boost southern Johor's status as a key aviation hub.

To be based in Senai Airport, privately-owned flymojo aims to launch in October, operating mainly domestic and regional flights.

This will benefit not just Malaysia-based travellers but also those residing in Singapore, by giving them new and additional flight options, industry analysts said.

While they do not make up a significant number, there are travellers who cross the border by land to board flights at Senai, which is used mainly by Malaysian carriers such as AirAsia and Malindo Air. Indonesia's Xpress Air is the only foreign airline operating there.

Plans for flymojo were announced at the Langkawi International Maritime and Aerospace (Lima) exhibition yesterday, when the airline inked a deal with Canadian plane-maker Bombardier for 20 CS100 jets - valued at US$1.47 billion (S$2.05 billion) based on catalogue prices.

There is an option for another 20 jets, which typically seat between 110 and 125 people each.

The Airbus 320 and Boeing 737 aircraft, commonly used by airlines on shorter routes, carry about 180 passengers.

Malaysia's Deputy Transport Minister Aziz Kaprawi, who was at the signing event, said the new carrier will improve air connectivity between east and west Malaysia, as well as within the region. "In addition... flymojo will transform Senai into a key regional aviation and logistics hub."

The push to grow Johor's aerospace sector, including its aircraft maintenance, repair and overhaul business, has continued over the past few years.

Despite initial concerns, this has not posed a serious challenge to Singapore's aerospace sector which has continued to grow, experts said.

Mr H. R. Mohandas, programme head for the diploma in aviation management at Republic Polytechnic, said: "Similarly, I don't think Singapore has much to worry about with flymojo.

"Seletar Aerospace Park continues to develop and grow with new services and capabilities adding to an already comprehensive suite of offerings."

From the manufacturing of aircraft engine blades to the repair of plane parts, Singapore is the region's undisputed aerospace leader, accounting for about 25 per cent of Asia's total business, experts said.

With Asia's air travel sector expected to grow strongly in the coming decades, there will be plenty of opportunities for all carriers and other industry players, Mr Mohandas said.

karam@sph.com.sg