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Veteran Recalls First Jumbo Jet, Meeting People During Reunion

Veteran Recalls First Jumbo Jet, Meeting People During Reunion
Former staff of Qantas and Air Terminal Services, from left: Vetaia Tawake, Roshan Deo and Viliame Niumataiwalu at the reunion party at the FNU Namaka Campus in Nadi on August 12, 2018. Photo: Arieta Vakasukawaqa
August 13
12:51 2018

Vetaia Tawake started his career as a passenger assistant at Nadi International Airport the same year when the first jumbo jet landed in Fiji.

The 70-year-old joined Qantas Airways in 1969 before Air Terminal Services was established in 1981 to look after ground handling and catering at Nadi previously managed by Qantas.

He was among former Qantas staff members at an ATS Qantas reunion party at the Fiji National University Namaka Campus in Nadi on Saturday night.

“My first day at work will always be a memorable one for me because it’s the very same year I got to see a jumbo jet at the airport and the first for Fiji too,” Mr Tawake said.

“Tonight I am so excited to meet former workmates at Qantas Airways Limited whom I had never met for years.

“I was really emotional when I met them because we just kept reminiscing our working days.”

He worked for Qantas Airways Limited right through to the year when ATS took over in 1981. He retired from ATS in 2004.

Mr Tawake is originally from Sabeto Village in Nadi with five children and six grandchildren.

“We worked closely with each other despite the different backgrounds we came from, treating each other like family and when the time comes for someone to retire, it was like a sad day for us,” he said.

The experience was, Mr Tawake said the opportunity to meet people from all over the world everyday and it was something he looked forward to on a daily basis.

“The working conditions was good and that the employers treated us nicely, which was also a motivation for us to turn to work and carry our roles to the best, the pay was good and our voices were heard,” he added.

Reunion Committee member, Danny Moraji said the reunion was only for the former staff members who worked for Qantas Airways Limited right through to ATS.

“This is something we have organised where we can all come and meet our former workmates, as you can see the atmosphere because the last time we did a reunion was in 2015,” Mr Moraji said.

Edited by Percy Kean



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