Fiji’s national airline plays name game (again)

Written by Nell Alcantara

The latest initiatives in the turnaround strategy of Air Pacific, Fiji’s national carrier, have been revealed, including a rebranding of the airline and a return to its 1958 name of “Fiji Airways.

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The latest initiatives in the turnaround strategy of Air Pacific, Fiji’s national carrier, have been revealed, including a rebranding of the airline and a return to its 1958 name of “Fiji Airways.”

The move is the latest in a series of initiatives that are part of a 360 degree review and restructure of the airline, which has seen the flag carrier reverse losses, improve its schedules and network, and make significant investments in new aircraft and its onboard product.

After posting an improved operating performance in FY 2010/11 (an operating loss of F$3.6 million compared to F$91.8 million in FY2009/10) the additional changes at the airline are part of the final phase of activities designed to return the airline to sustainable profitability.

“Fiji Airways” was the name of the airline between 1958 and 1970. The name was changed to “Air Pacific” in 1970 to reflect its greatly expanded regional presence. The new move will see the airline more closely aligned with its proud Fijian heritage and its role as Fiji’s largest inbound and outbound airline.

“Globally there is high consumer awareness of Fiji as a holiday destination. We want to strengthen that association and also promote Fiji in every country we fly to. Returning to ‘Fiji Airways’ will better reflect our role as Fiji’s national carrier, and also assist Fiji by growing tourism and interest in the nation,” said David Pflieger, Air Pacific’s managing director and CEO. “Our airline is one of Fiji’s largest companies employing 800 people directly and an estimated 8,000 or so indirectly, and we fly in over 60% of all visitors who come to Fiji, so it only makes sense for us to embrace our uniquely Fijian culture and spirit, characteristics which have seen Fiji consistently recognised by consumers as one of the world’s friendliest countries and no doubt helped us win a recent award as one of the top ten small airlines in the world.”

Pflieger added, “Our rebranding is part of an overall turnaround plan – a plan that is working well and should, with continued focus and effort, help us thrive and grow as the preferred airline of the South Pacific.

“In 2010/2011 Air Pacific and Pacific Sun carried a combined 1.1million passengers on 15,000 flights. This represents a year-on-year increase of 37,000 additional passengers which helped increase revenue by F$40 million – at the same time non-fuel costs were reduced by F$13 million.

“With a strong offering of outstanding resorts, hotel properties and diverse activities, we see a lot of opportunity to grow the profile of Fiji as both a final destination and a stopover destination for our long-haul services to Los Angeles and Hong Kong.”

“Our recent investment in new aircraft, a new inflight product, a new airport lounge, and better service, should also position us to capture more of Fiji’s high-end leisure travel market,” said Mr. Pflieger.

Today’s announcement marks another important milestone in the continued turnaround of Fiji’s national carrier, an effort that has already been marked by increased flights between Fiji and Sydney, an aircraft order for three brand new A330-200 aircraft, an order for Rolls-Royce’s Trent 700 engines, and other work focussing on revitalising and modernising the airline’s product and services.

Air Pacific’s transition to its new livery and brand will be a methodical and planned process, expected to be fully completed by the end of 2013. Air Pacific’s new fleet of A330-200’s, which are due to be delivered in 2013, will come equipped with the airline’s new brand and colour scheme, but the brand will be rolled out across the marketplace, ticket offices, check-in counters, airport lounge facilities, and the company’s official website and advertising over the upcoming 18 months.

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Nell Alcantara