The age of Fiji Airways begins

By ELLEN STOLZ Last night might have been the launch of the re-branding from Air Pacific to Fiji Airways, and what an exciting night it was. But the nation’s airline
11 Oct 2012 10:27

The Economy Class for the new Fiji Airways Airbus A330-200 aircraft. Fiji Airways looks forward to being the preferred airline in the Pacific, and welcoming its passengers aboard with style.


Last night might have been the launch of the re-branding from Air Pacific to Fiji Airways, and what an exciting night it was. But the nation’s airline is not there yet says the man leading it.
Air Pacific chief executive and managing director David Pflieger said that while it was a memorable occasion, there is still so much work left to be done.
Mr Pflieger told Sun Business: “I see great things for us in the future but we’re got another 18 months of hard work ahead of us because we’re not done re-branding.
“We’re announcing tonight what the planes look like inside and out but at the end of the day we’re showing people how all these things came together.
“It’s not just changing for change sake but to ensure that we don’t just survive but succeed, grow, create more jobs and be a flying ambassador for Fiji.”
Anyone would agree that the astonishing turn-around of Air Pacific from a dramatic nosedive to a climbing success is nothing short of remarkable.
“Taking the company from $91 million loss to a $16 million profit is a testament to the amazing people we have on the team and how we have pulled together as a team to succeed.
“I think that the future will be these re-branding new airplanes which will be the capstone of the entire restructure and revitalisation,” Mr Pflieger said.

The reason for
the rebranding

“The reason we did the name change was because we wanted to better align Fiji’s national airline with the country; Fiji.
“In the past our research has found that people did not know what Air Pacific was, they didn’t know where we flew and we gave that name a 31-year chance to become a successful brand and it really was not working for us.
“If we want to be a flying ambassador for Fiji, a flying billboard for the country when we are parked in LA or landing in Hong Kong or landing into Sydney or Auckland we need to be Fiji,” he said.

The hardest part

“I’d say the hardest part is that change is difficult for everybody and convincing people that it was the right thing to do and backing that up with the data was probably a challenge.
“But what our team has been able to accomplish in the last two and a half years has been breathe taking. We took a very challenging situation in the early days and not just ensured the survival of the national airline but the success.
“We faced not one but two low cost carriers who were foreign carriers and did not care whether Air Pacific lives or dies.
“Then fuel shot up to a record high of 140 a barrel for kerosene which you put on the airplanes and you’re flying gas-guzzling jumbo jets with leisure affairs; we don’t have lucrative business cargo and business passengers like Qantas, Cathay Pacific or Air New Zealand

Career paths for
Fijian pilots

Although the new Airbus A330-200 planes do not begin arriving till March, Mr  Pflieger said he saw huge opportunities and a need right now for more pilots then there are in the country.
“We could hire every single Pacific Sun pilot into Air Pacific, soon to be Fiji Airways, and still we will not have enough pilots to do the flying we need to do.
In terms of career progression, job opportunities into a very lucrative career field. Being a pilot for the national carrier flying 737’s or Airbus A330’s is a very good job but it won’t be until we’re in growth mode though.
“But once we’re sustainably in the block and then we can go out and buy more planes, add more cities, more routes, we will be able to increase the size of our work force.”
The way forward

Out with the old in with the new and right now the national airline is taking things one step at a time.
“Right now what will happen is essentially its two 450 seat jumbo jets, 900 in seats in total leave the airline and they are replaced with three A330s which are roughly around 300 seats each.
“So, anywhere the 747 or jumbo flies will be where the A330s go so Hong Kong and New Zealand but in terms of future growth we need to add in more airplanes before we can turn on to another city,” he said.
Exciting days for the nation’s airline, more excitement ahead.

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