Business

Australian: Air Pacific rebranding bodes well for Fijian carrier

By STEVE CREEDY (Writing in Australia’s national daily newspaper: The Australian) Air Pacific is on track in its elaborate exercise to rebrand as Fiji Airways and to start Airbus A330
13 Oct 2012 11:41

By
STEVE CREEDY

(Writing in Australia’s national daily newspaper: The Australian)

Air Pacific is on track in its elaborate exercise to rebrand as Fiji Airways and to start Airbus A330 services by next June, according to chief executive David Pflieger.
The Fijian flag carrier chose Fiji Day on Wednesday to unveil its striking new livery and reveal the interior of its new jets, the first wide-body aircraft purchased by the niche carrier in its 61-year history.
The new interior, put together by Singapore Airlines subsidiary SIA Engineering , features a 32-inch economy seat pitch with new economy and lie-flat business seats designed by Zodiac Aerospace/Weber. The aircraft will be equipped with 110 volt power to all seats and Panasonic’s eX2 entertainment system.

FRIENDLINESS

The distinctive exterior combines a number of Fijian symbols representing friendliness, warm greetings and clear water flowing on a white, sandy beach.
“We knew the exterior design needed to be just as distinctive, unique, and true to Fiji,” Mr Pflieger said, noting that the mission was to “create a proud symbol that would stand out at some of the world’s busiest international airports”.
The airline aims to start selling under the new moniker in May and have the rebranding complete by the end of the next year.
Mr Pflieger said the rebranding was going well and would dovetail with the delivery of A330s in March and May, with entry into commercial service slated for June. A third plane is due in November next year.
“By May we’ll be starting to sell Fiji Airways and then we’ll have all-new everything — new web, new uniforms, new airplanes — and then we’ll go back and and fix the 73s (Boeing 737s) to make them all consistent as well,” he told The Australian.
“It will take to the end of 2013 to get it done because the jumbos will be running around until the end of the year and then we’ll retire one in June and one I think in a December timeframe.
“And by the tail end of December 2013, we’ll have everything rebranded.”

WELCOMED

The airline executive has been pleased with the response to the rebranding so far. It has been widely welcomed in Fiji and the company said overseas sales agents were looking forward to no longer having to explain what Air Pacific was and where it flew.
This is the third and final phase of a restructuring and revitalisation of the Fijian carrier the former Virgin America executive has been conducting for two years.
He has sought to overcome the airline’s poor reputation for reliability and has boosted on-time performance by 15 to 20 per cent. He also introduced bonuses for staff who reach key performance targets and is building an operational control centre that brings together key functions in the interests of greater efficiency.
“We used to be the airline to avoid because the planes were breaking and (not) running on time, and there was really no focus on on-time performance,” Mr Pflieger said. “When I came in, one of my mantras was planes are like trains: we need to run them on time. So reliability’s much better.”

FINANCES

Air Pacific has improved its financial position and attracted about 85,000 additional passengers, despite increased competition from the Qantas and Virgin Australia groups, high fuel prices of up to $US140 a barrel, and the fact it is flying jumbo jets in what is essentially a leisure market.
The arrival of the more efficient twin-engine A330s will give the airline significant operating and maintenance cost advantages over its present set-up, and Mr Pflieger said both the holiday island and the airline were weathering the global economic uncertainty.
He said the airline had not only survived but succeeded, and the changes meant it was now positioned to do well.
“I see good things in our future,” he said.
However, he would not be drawn on long-running Qantas attempts to sell its 46 per cent stake in the airline, other than to say the sale threat and a decision by the Australian carrier to withdraw its four board members was not affecting the airline’s day-to-day operations.




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