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Pflieger ends Air Pacific role

February 09
13:52 2013

Air Pacific managing director and chief executive officer, David Pflieger, has notified the board of his decision to leave the airline as his three-year contract with the company comes to an end .

By RACHNA LAL and JYOTI PRATIBHA

Dave Pflieger’s achievements

l Restoring airline to profitability in just two years–reversing record operating losses of $12 million and $91 million in the two financial years before he arrived, to produce a $16 million profit
l Winning first-ever recognition from Conde Nast Traveler magazine as one of the World’s “Top 5” Small Airlines for two years in a row (2011 & 2012)
l Modernising the fleet by leading the landmark acquisition and financing of the airline’s first brand-new wide-body aircraft, three A330s, scheduled for delivery in March, May, and November of 2013
l Initiating and leading the complete re-branding, renaming, and restoration of the airline to its 1960s name of ‘Fiji Airways’
l Entering into an extensive code-share agreement with American Airlines;
l Implementing the Company’s first-ever profit sharing and quarterly performance incentive plans for front-line employees
l Instituting a new and highly robust Corporate Social Responsibility initiative.

The man behind the dramatic and highly-successful restructuring, re-branding and revitalisation of our national airline has decided to leave after finishing his three-year contract.
Air Pacific chairman, Nalin Patel, yesterday announced that managing director and chief executive, David Pflieger, has notified the board of his decision to leave the airline.
Mr Pflieger has indicated to the board he will be returning to the United States following the completion of his three-year contract on May 1.
With the modernisation and rebranding complete and a completely new and highly-capable management team in place, Mr Pflieger feels the time is to pass the reigns and pursue other opportunities.
Mr Patel said: “Given the exceptional results Dave has delivered, it is with immense gratitude for his extraordinary service that we have reluctantly accepted his decision to relinquish the helm of Air Pacific and return home.
“At a time when many of the world’s other airlines were struggling, Dave skillfully guided Air Pacific through one of the most remarkable turnarounds in the airline industry.
“Thanks to his incredible vision, drive, and leadership, Air Pacific is now again profitable and extremely well-positioned for future growth and success.”

A-G acknowledges contribution
The Attorney-General and Minister for Tourism, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum, acknowledged Mr Pflieger’s phenomenal contribution to Air Pacific.
“The company was very much in the doldrums financially and in terms of its strategic outlook and that has been turned around by him,” he said.
“He has also picked up the staff morale exponentially and we really have a good team at Air Pacific.”

A lifetime experience
Thanking everyone for an incredible three years, Mr Pflieger said: “Fiji is an amazing country, and I am humbled by and grateful for the once-in-a lifetime experience that my family and I enjoyed and will never forget.”
Mr Pflieger attributed the accomplishments of Air Pacific over the past three years to the board chairman, the board and all employees of the national airline.
He feels with the rebranding to Fiji Airways, arrival of the brand new Airbus A330-200 aircraft, strong cash and balance sheet positions, and international awards, it was clear Air Pacific now had a proven track record of success and an exciting future ahead.
Mr Patel said the capstone of Air Pacific’s incredible turnaround would be the introduction of the new Airbus A330s.
“When we welcome the first of these three new wide-body aircraft in mid-March, it will be a proud day for the airline, Fiji, and all Fijians,” he said.
“Thus, I am especially pleased that Dave – as the architect of the airline’s turnaround, rebranding, and growth– will remain with us to see that through.”

Search for new chief
Mr Patel has announced the board would immediately begin the recruitment process for the airline’s next managing director and chief executive.
At the board’s request, Mr Pflieger, a business executive, attorney and pilot with almost three decades of aviation experience, will assist with the selection and transition of a new chief executive.
He will help ensure a smooth and successful introduction of the airline’s new aircraft and ‘Fiji Airways’ rebranding.

Tourism Fiji role
Mr Pflieger was also the executive chairman of Tourism Fiji.
Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said: “Tourism Fiji will not come to a stand still and it will continue on the path it has taken.
“The board will look for a person to fill in the position substantially, like they hired Dave.
“We had discussions about his contract and Dave is not disappearing, he has his heart in Fiji. Dave has his personal reasons and we have to respect that.”

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