It’s finally arrived. The Airbus 330A that Air Pacific and the whole of Fiji were waiting for. We took a tour of the interior and were quite impressed with the comfort of the chairs and the general setup of the cabin. The washroom looks great and access is easy. We liked the video panel at the back of each chair, which seems to be the way airlines are doing things these days.
I think that this is better than the old way of looking at a big screen on the far wall. With Panasonic as the supplier and contractor of the video setups, the traveling public will surely be in for some good viewing experiences.
The Airbus was flown over the major populated areas in Fiji for the public to have a short view of their own aircraft. The feedback received by news channels was overwhelmingly positive and more than a few people expressed their joy on public TV at seeing Fiji’s own aircraft. Shortly after arriving, there was a welcome ceremony and speeches from various dignitaries. Then the Airbus was open for public viewing at the Air Pacific Hangar. Crowds lined up to get a first hand view of the plane. We were part of the crowd.
For the previous 5-6 years ago, Air Pacific were making losses on a massive scale whilst tourism were also taking a hammering due to factors such as the coup, negative overseas travel advisories and natural disasters. This pushed the Air Pacific Board and the Fiji Government to begin a company-wide reform and restructure that resulted in many top executives of the then Air Pacific leaving the company. As part of this restructure process, they brought in David Pflieger, an American Expatriate with the needed experience to guide the reforms through.
In the beginning of the reforms and restructure, it looked like all hell had broken loose as staff left, redundancy packages were given out and positions were either merged or scrapped altogether. Then the turnaround began to happen as the company returned to profit. The contract with Boeing for the massively large Dream-liners was cancelled and Air Pacific entered into a new purchase contract with Airbus for supply of three new aircraft. To facilitate this purchase contract, loans were obtained from the Fiji National Provident Fund (FNPF) whilst the balance was from overseas lenders. In this way, via the FNPF and the Fiji Government, the people of Fiji now have ownership of an Airbus A330 with another two on its way.
Back to Fiji Airways
To cap this off, Air Pacific has also gone through a re-branding exercise with it being renamed as Fiji Airways. This was the original name of the airline and so it will return to its roots. The new plane is now flying the new colors of Fiji Airways which looks unique and really cool. They will make the official brand switch in June 2013.
All this bodes well for Fiji Tourism as a whole. Well done Air Pacific and soon to be, Fiji Airways.