Fly to Kota Baru

June 25, 2009 by  
Filed under Related Interests

FIREFLY has just announced new flights from Singapore to Kuala Terengganu, Alor Setar, Kota Baru, Ipoh, Malacca and, I must add, Kuantan. Wow! As a Singaporean, I have no complaints. But this does seem like an overly ambitious plan for Malaysia Airlines’ budget carrier, Firefly, to introduce so many flights out of/and into Singapore all at the same time.

Using twin turboprops it wants to fly direct from the Singapore to these exotic state capitals. Exotic because apart from Malacca, I daresay not that many Singaporeans (especially the non-Malays) visit Kota Baru and Kuala Terengganu. Yes, Ipoh should be popular with the many Chinese Malaysians from Perak working in Singapore. Two of my colleagues from Ipoh are very happy since they heard the news weeks ago. A one-way bus trip from Singapore to Kuala Lumpur is five hours, to Ipoh it is EIGHT HOURS. Even if you were to drive non-stop you can only do Singapore to Ipoh (minus immigration delays) in a minimum of 6 hours — if you bloody speed all the way. But if you fly direct to Ipoh, it’ll be like 90 minutes maximum. I applaud Firefly, although I don’t know whether introducing everything at the same time (or nearly at the same time) will work. Will they be able to make any money? I hope so. But here is why I like the idea: When I trailed Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew to Ipoh and Kota Baru just last week, it was a very tiring journey. He went to other cities, but his visit was covered by another group of Singapore reporters. I only covered the Ipoh and Kota Baru legs. To go to Ipoh from Singapore, a fellow had to fly to Penang, and then he had to take a cab for about 2.5 hours back south into Ipoh. Total: 4 hours. Our group then had to go from Ipoh to Kota Baru to follow the Minister Mentor. We rented a Naza Ria MPV and took six hours via Cameron Highlands. To fly back to Singapore from Kota Baru, I had to stop by at Kuala Lumpur Iinternational Airport. Sigh. With these newly planned flights, things will be easier. A bored Singaporean might be expected to book a ticket to Kuala Terengganu, Kota Baru, or Kuantan. But I am not sure about Alor Setar. And unless you are from Kedah or Perlis, why would anyone from Singapore wants to fly there? I can see that it is convenient for a Kedahan or a Perlisian if he wants to go to London or Sydney via Changi. But will there be enough weekly volumes? But for consumers, all the connectivity is super. Just like bored Singaporeans now fly to Siam Reap or Bangkok or Hanoi for the weekend, those poorer ones like me might just fly to Kota Baru direct. I love shopping at the Kelantan-Thai border towns of Rantau Panjang and Pengkalan Kubor. The freshly-imported (some say freshly-smuggled) Thailand products — from t-shirts to toys, cashew nuts to pillow cases — are just so cheap.

SOURCE : Reme Ahmad,

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