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Viljoen Tells Of Growth Plans, Challenges

Viljoen Tells Of Growth Plans, Challenges
Participants during Fiji Chamber of Commerce and Industry Government and key stakeholders vision for business community by 2025 at Grand Pacific Hotel on 1, September 2018. Photo: Ronald Kumar.
September 02
10:00 2018

Fiji Airways is aspiring to grow by eight per cent every year over the next 10 years.

If achieved, it will mean more aircraft, more passengers, and more destinations for the company.

But it won’t be easy, says the national carrier’s chief executive officer and managing director Andre Viljoen.

While Fiji Airways enjoys regulatory protection, operating out of a small island nation means it still faces some unique challenges.

Mr Viljoen spoke of the airline’s challenges at Business 2025, a vision-sharing forum organised by the Fiji Chamber of Commerce and Industry, yesterday.

It was held at Suva’s Grand Pacific Hotel.

One main concern for Mr Viljoen was the insufficient supply of experienced local pilots, forcing the airline to hire expatriates at increased costs.

“Fiji Airways has no choice but to recruit abroad,” he said.

In tourism, Mr Viljoen believes Fiji’s hotel prices during peak season are too expensive compared to competing countries like Bali, Hawaii and the Gold Coast in Australia.

Another area worrying the Fiji Airways boss are products in the tourism market.

He believes there is a need to innovate, or Fiji risks losing business to competing countries.

On infrastructure, Mr Viljoen believes it was “necessary” to add at least one hotel of 250 rooms per year to match the supply of tourists.

Fiji Airways will also outgrow the newly-renovated Nadi International Aiport once it expands its fleet size to 23 aircraft, Mr Viljoen said.

The Fiji Airways Group announced its highgest-ever profit before tax of FJ$95.8 million for the financial year ending December 31, 2017.

But with fuel prices expected to rise even further next year, Mr Viljoen said the obstacles put more pressure on Fiji Airways.

Feedback: sheldon.chanel@fijisun.com.fj

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