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Fiji Airways Requests Review Of Air Service Agreements Considered Too Liberal

Fiji Airways has requested that our Government revaluates some of the existing Air Service Agreements we have which are seen as being too liberal. Fiji Airways managing director/chief executive, Andre
23 Apr 2016 10:31
Fiji Airways Requests Review Of Air Service Agreements Considered Too Liberal
Former Fiji Airways Chairman Nalin Patel, Fiji Airways Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer Andre Viljoen, Vodafone's Ronald Prasad and Founder and CEO of Sunergise International Paul Makumbe during the 2016 FIA Congress at Sheraton Fiji Resort on Denarau yesterday.

Fiji Airways has requested that our Government revaluates some of the existing Air Service Agreements we have which are seen as being too liberal.

Fiji Airways managing director/chief executive, Andre Viljoen, made this proposal yesterday while speaking at the 2016 Fiji Institute of Accountants Congress at the Sheraton Fiji Resort on Denarau Island.

Air Service Agreements are reciprocal air transportation agreements between two sovereignties regulating the air services. There are 28 Air Service Agreements which Fiji has negotiated altogether with other countries.

These can be very specific and regulate the number of reciprocal seats per week/month/year or be very liberal with little or no limitations.

Mr Viljoen believes our ASAs with all these countries, except Australia, are much liberalised and there are no restrictions with lots of beyond points.

“I mean for a small nation like ours, this is quite a risk and there should be a little bit more control,” he said.

“We would like to ask Government to revisit some of these agreements as it is too liberal.”

 

What does liberalised mean?

When we say liberal, Mr Viljoen said this means some of these countries can decide to put many flights tomorrow, whenever they like, however they like.

This is because they may have 5th and/or 6th freedom rights.

5th Freedom sometimes refers to as ‘beyond right’ and provides the right to carry passengers between two countries by an airline of a third country (example the ability of Fiji Airways to sell beyond USA to Canada).

6th Freedom is the right to carry passengers between two foreign countries by stopping or connecting in the home country (example Emirates using Dubai).

 

Why it matters to Fiji?

So the question is why is there a need to review the ASAs?

Mr Viljoen stressed one needs to understand the airlines which fly here are doing it for their own motives.

“They are not doing it because they are Fijian but because they have their own business and the minute things don’t work, they will cut flights,” he said.

“We, Fiji Airways, will stay because we are the national airline. We are the core bridge to the world that has to be looked after. We are committed to the country and we are here to stay.”

“This, being the national carrier that has the interest of the country at heart – that is one of our core objectives – we are making an appeal that some of these ASAs are very liberal and maybe be reviewed.”

Mr Viljoen said ASAs get revised all the time and as it is, Fiji has very modern ASAs and thus they are very liberal.

 

Open skies concept

Mr Viljoen described Open Skies as highly liberalised ASAs environment between sovereignties that allows unlimited access to all destinations/routes and often includes no restrictions on intermediate and beyond traffic.

“Open skies is completely unrestrictive environment,” he said.

He pointed that there are times when people make a lot of noise about open skies when in fact, Fiji does have open skies to some extent and thus the liberalised ASAs.

Mr Viljoen did point out most of the ASAs to Fiji Airways core markets are sustainably liberalised.

While open skies is expected/promised to boost flight frequency, enhance connectivity, increase traffic and lower ticket prices, Mr Viljoen stressed it is more so the opposite which happens in most cases.

 

Aim now

Currently Fiji Airways falls in a 3-star category in SkyTrax rating and is amongst 136 other airlines.

Mr Viljoen said they are now working towards achieving a 4-star SkyTrax rating to be amongst Qantas, Etihad, Emirates and British Airlines.

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