By JYOTI PRATIBHA
Air Pacific (soon to be Fiji Airways) outgoing managing director and chief executive officer Dave Pflieger flies out of the country to start his new journey at Silver Airways, in Miami, America on Saturday.
Staff of Fiji’s national carrier bid him farewell at the Air Pacific hangar in Nadi yesterday.
His success in three transforming and modernising years at the national airline were highlighted by staff.
Addressing the staff, Mr Pflieger said it was his privilege and honour to be a part of a world-class team.
In his remarks to employees, Mr. Pflieger outlined many of the airline’s accomplishments over the past three years, including:
• Dramatically improving Air Pacific’s on-time performance, reliability and customer service;
• A financial turnaround of $ 91.8 million in loss to $16.5 million in profit;
• Rebranding the airline to best represent everything Fiji has to offer as “Fiji Airways”;
• Making hundreds of millions of dollars of investments in the airline and hence the nation’s tourism industry and economy, by purchasing the airline’s first-ever wide-body aircraft expressly designed and built from the ground up to represent Fiji and the Fijian people;
• Implementing a front-line Key Performance Indicator (“KPI”) incentive programme that rewards front-line employees for top performance with bonuses of up to $1,200 per person per year. This plan has already paid out $600,000 in its first year alone;
• Creating a first-ever Profit Sharing Plan for all non-management employees;
• Being the only airline to operate during all four days of last year’s flooding as well as being the first airline to immediately resume operations after Cyclone Evan hit the nation this past December;
• Creating a first-ever Corporate Social Responsibility (“CSR”) programme that already features partnerships with FRIEND (Foundation for Rural Integrated Enterprises & Development) and the Mamanuca Environmental Society; and now includes the sponsorship of a new ‘Fiji Airways Wellness Clinic’; and
• And being twice recognised by Conde Nast Traveler Reader’s Choice Awards, ranking among the Top 10 Small Airlines in the world in 2011, and among the Top 5 in 2012.
“It feels fantastic in terms of looking at what we have been able to get as a team in the past three years, I cannot tell how proud I am of the airline,” he said.
Mr Pflieger said he is also proud of the fact that many international organisations, such as foreign banks who had not known of Air Pacific previously, were now knocking on the national carrier’s doors, wanting to do business with the airline.
“We were always under the Qantas shadow and now we are standing on our two feet, loudly and proudly saying that here is Fiji’s national carrier, ready for more,” Mr Pflieger said.
Mr Pflieger has been actively working to find his successor.
He said there would be an announcement in about a month’s time.
He also stated that an interim position may be announced for an acting chief executive officer soon.
Air Pacific Chairman Nalin Patel applauded Mr Pflieger’s leadership and his commitment to the airline’s employees as being central to the turnaround plan’s success.
“Dave Pflieger’s incredible vision, leadership and drive resulted in one of the most remarkable airline turnarounds in recent history, and he did this while maintaining the strongest pro-employee proposition of any airline CEO who has had to undertake an airline restructuring and revitalisation in recent times,” Mr Patel said.
“Having successfully restored the airline to profitability in just two years, and revitalised and rebranded the airline in just three, Dave has earned the respect of all of his employees and Fijians everywhere.”