PM Meets Emirates Boss In Courtesy Visit
Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama met Emirates Airline & Group chairman and chief executive, His Highness Sheik Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, in a courtesy visit in Dubai.
Mr Bainimarama was on his way to London for sugar talks when he stopped over in Dubai.
There have been talks in the past about an air deal that allows Emirates to fly to Fiji.
Sheik Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, has been at the forefront of Dubai’s remarkable economic development, spearheading the successful expansion of aviation and formulating economic investment and fiscal policies and strategies in support of the emirate’s overarching vision. The vision is to build a travel and tourism empire at a staggering pace.
Talks about Emirates flying to Fiji started in 2012 when Mr Bainimarama arrived in Abu Dhabi in the first official visit of a Fijian head of state to the UAE. It was among issues that were discussed in bilateral talks that covered a range of topics that included military co-operation, education and investment.
Fiji sees the UAE as the hub of the Middle East including the Gulf states. An air deal would boost tourism in Fiji and increase connectivity between the two countries and subregions. Fiji could be linked to countries in South America such as Chile, Peru or even Brazil through Emirates connection.
Previously talks have been held with Emirates and Etihad. Etihad Airways is a flag carrier and the second-largest airline of the UAE, after Emirates.
Airline links would be a boon to both tourism and business in Fiji.
More airlines would bring tourists and business people, especially from newer markets, such as from the Middle East and Europe.
Emirates and Etihad already fly into the Pacific region. Emirates and Etihad fly into Australia and Emirates flies into New Zealand.
There are possibilities of negotiating piggybacking onto these services to fly in and out of Fiji too.
Emirates, which has one of the world’s largest fleet with 244 aircraft, was named the World’s Best Airline and received 12th consecutive award for best In-flight Entertainment at Skytrax World Airline Awards 2016.
Many Fijians now work in the UAE and the neighbouring countries. The workers include pilots and nurses, seafarers and security officers.
Mr Bainimarama was on his way to London to attend the International Sugar Organisation meeting.
Then he will travel to Brussels for talks with European Union officials and on the global climate change conference COP23, which Fiji will preside over.
Edited by Naisa Koroi