THE comments were made in Nadi this week as the airline formally welcomed the third A350 aircraft to its fleet, with the moment streamed on live TV to residents, a reflection of how momentous the occasion was for the country more broadly.
The event saw hours of cultural blessings and welcomes take place, as well as a water cannon salute and a special address from the Fijian Prime Minister, Sitiveni Rabuka, who declared the airline’s fortunes inextricably linked to the prosperity of the Fijian nation.
And going by the numbers, the country’s leader is certainly not wrong, the airline has rebounded stronger than most from the pandemic, with aggressive recovery plans put in place by the Fijian Government to incentivise tourism and create easy access for tourists paying dividends for the country’s visitor economy only a few years on from the COVID disaster.
Viljoen revealed this week that its fleet now offers 33% more seats than it did pre-COVID thanks in part to its fleet modernisation strategy, and by December, that number is predicted to surpass 40%, while Australian bookings are also doing better than the rising average, on track to be 47% ahead of 2019 volumes.
The carrier plans to spend more than FJ$61 million on destination marketing, a large portion in Australia, more than any other operator in Fiji, with the airline’s chief reiterating its goal of not simply ferrying passengers to and from the country, but also working in lockstep with the country’s tourism industry to promote everything the country has to offer travellers.
The bolstering of its fleet with wide-body, longer range A350s is not done with yet either, with a fourth jet due to join in the next fortnight, with hints of more to follow.
Melbourne and Sydney routes are set to be the primary beneficiaries of the new aircraft, servicing Melbourne to Fiji up to twice a week, as well as increasing capacity on the Sydney to Nadi route, while other key routes to North America will also benefit.
“The A350, with its superior cabin, significant fuel savings and substantial cargo capacity, has fast become the pride of our airline and the joy of our passengers,” Viljoen said.
Meanwhile Fiji Airways is also revamping its menu and in-flight entertainment options.
Healthier and fresher Business and Economy class menus will go live shortly, offering a larger variety of fruits, salads and desserts, while blockbusters from Disney and HBO is also coming soon as part of the airline’s enhanced entertainment offering.
To celebrate the arrival of its latest A350 aircraft, Fiji Airways is also offering up to 15% off return Economy airfares to Fiji and beyond until 31 August, for select travel dates.