8pc growth plan

FIJI Airways has embarked on a campaign with Airbus and Boeing to consider modernising its A330 fleet of aircraft, says company CEO and managing director Andre Viljoen.

He said with the company’s plan to grow 8 per cent a year, they had to look long term.

“We need to ask ourselves, can the A330s still do the job going forward and what alternatives there are,” he said.

“So, we are looking at the Airbus A330 Neo, which is a new version of the A330 or the Airbus A350 which is new generation composite quality aircraft which flies much further and saves 20 to 25 per cent on fuel or the Boeing 787 Dreamliner, which also flies the same distance as the A350, which is about 15 hours and also saves 20 to 25 per cent on fuel.”

He said they were in the middle of a campaign with the two companies, which would take several more months.

“It’s our desire to achieve a similar outcome to what we did with the MAX 8. Obviously, this is a decision that will be taken sometime this year with deliveries probably only about 2021 and 2022 even.

“Our fear was, if we brought a brand new aircraft we would be locked into it while in the middle of a campaign.

“For that reason, we have taken a decision to bring in two aircraft A330s on a short-term lease of four years. These are used aircraft that we believe are very good in quality and will do the job for us as we transverse into this modernisation of our wide bodied fleet going forward.

“We’ve also done a lot of work in terms of Fiji Link, the modernisation. We’ve refinanced the ATRs locally, a much better deal than what was originally put in place. We’ve received to date three brand new Twin Otter aircraft.

“We will receive our fourth by August or September this year, making Fiji Link one of the few operators in the world to have a young fleet of aircraft.”