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CLEARED for Suva takeoff

Written By : PETER LOMAS. Air Pacific jet services into Suva’s Nausori Airport start again this Friday morning. The World’s Friendliest Airline and Suva businessmen like Peter Mazey and David
27 Jun 2010 12:00

image Written By : PETER LOMAS. Air Pacific jet services into Suva’s Nausori Airport start again this Friday morning. The World’s Friendliest Airline and Suva businessmen like Peter Mazey and David Voss deserve credit.
For when the Boeing 737-700 flight FJ430 touches down after just over three hours of flying from Auckland this is more than just another landing.
The arrival of the jet, named the Island of Koro, heralds the successful reopening of Suva as an international destination in its own right. It ends a prolonged debate over this.
Mr Mazey, owner of central Suva’s JJ’s On the Park Hotel, and Mr Voss, managing director of Hertz Fiji, have long been visionaries promoting Destination Suva.
They emphasised this included ensuring developing direct international jet flights into the capital.
Air Pacific previously flew into Suva from Auckland and Sydney. It suspended its Nausori jet services in 2007.
Now it is relaunching with Auckland-Suva-Auckland flights.
But not before the debate behind the scenes involving Airports Fiji Limited.
Should money be invested by Airports Fiji Limited into upgrading the loss-making Nausori airport? went one question.
Or would it be better to concentrate on further developing Nadi International Airport in the tourism heartland across the other side of Viti Levu?
Suva, one strong viewpoint within Airports Fiji Limited went, would be better served via Nadi by frequent Nadi-Suva-Nadi turboprop shuttle flights.
Air Pacific was on the side of reopening Nausori to jet services. It knew the potential and importance of direct international flights into Suva.
In 2004/2005, for example, it operated 104 Suva international services with its Boeing 737 jets, carrying 29,451 passengers with an average load of 72.5%.

The airline had also addressed concerns over approaches to Nausori airport by its jet airliners in cloud and poor weather.
It trained its pilots to use what are known as GPS (Global Positioning System) approaches to overcome the problem of lack of approach lights and aids at night and in poor weather. GPS gives pilots the precision they need for such flying.
The lack of approach lighting for the Nausori runway has been one of the longtime concerns there.
Efforts to improve it have been thwarted by demands by owners of the land where this lighting would go.
Nausori also has a relatively short runway, 1868 metres long.
This makes Air Pacific using its smaller 118-seat Boeing 737-700 a better option because of braking issues when landing when Nausori’s runway is wet. The 737-700 has similar braking power to Air Pacific’s bigger 162-passenger Boeing 737-800s. can pull up quicker because it is lighter.
The Auckland-Suva-Auckland service will provide new options for business and family travellers between eastern Viti Levu and New Zealand.
But Air Pacific’s enthusiasm to resume Suva flights is especially good news for organisations like Destination Suva, the Suva Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and Suva City Council.

They want to both promote Suva as a destination and to build it into an events capital of the region.
They want people to be able to fly straight to Suva. That’s rather than having to go through Nadi International Airport and then catch a domestic turboprop flight across Viti Levu to Nausori.
It will, especially if services from Australia also eventually resume, open up opportunities for tourism operators in Pacific Harbour, Beqa, Bau Waters and the Lomaiviti islands.
Auckland-Suva-Auckland flights start with a weekly service on Fridays. Air Pacific adds a second weekly flight on Mondays from August.
The Boeing 737-700 has eight seats in Tabua/Business Class and 110 in Pacific Voyager/Economy Class.
The Suva service will complement Air Pacific’s existing Nadi-Auckland schedule of up to 13 weekly flights, in addition to the weekly Nadi-Christchurch flight.

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