\MALAYSIA Airlines' short-haul premium airline - to be called "MAS" - is set to be launched by the first half of this year.
Business Times has learnt that six Boeing B737-800 planes (which were previously used by Firely as part of its jet operations) will be used by the new airline.
Sources said the new airline will likely tap into the pool of crew at Malaysia Airlines and Firefly respectively, while some recruitment may be done from the open market.
"The new airline will probably take to the skies before June this year," one source told Business Times.
Another source said that the six jets which no longer sport Firefly's livery, but that of Malaysia Airlines' are likely to be painted and give a fresh look, in line with the new airline's branding and logo.
Firefly had a fleet of six B737-800 aircraft and two used B737-400 planes. The B737-800s were based in Kuala Lumpur and Kota Kinabalu while the B737-400s were in Johor Baru.
Aviation experts also say that it is likely that Firefly may no longer operate as a separate entity currently known as Fly Firefly Sdn Bhd, but will instead come under parent company Malaysia Airlines.
In August last year, national carrier Malaysia Airlines and rival AirAsia said both parties will swap shares in a partnership.
Under the deal, Tune Air which owns some 23 per cent in AirAsia, will hold a 20.5 per cent stake in MAS, while state investment arm Khazanah Nasional Bhd which owns 69.5 per cent in Malaysia Airline, will hold 10 per cent in AirAsia.
Malaysia Airlines' corporate communications department, when contacted, said they have not received the approval to respond to email queries sent by Business Times yesterday.
However, they are likely to respond by today