‘Loss of valuable land and property’

Fiji Pine Group executive chairman Faiz Khan. Picture: FT FILE

POLITICAL interference led to the loss of valuable land and property near Nadi International Airport which used to belong to Airports Fiji Ltd — now Fiji Airports. Speaking at the launch of the company’s new brand, Fiji Airports executive chairperson Faiz Khan said this was one of the reasons the company faced difficulty in expanding its operations.

Mr Khan referred to how the mind-set had changed. He said there were buildings that used to belong to Fiji Airports in 2002.

“But in those days, through political interference, if I may call it, we were ordered to give the land away. “Today we are struggling in terms of master planning, etcetera because valuable land that could have been used for our own planning is gone for good.”

He said despite the challenge, the company had grown.

“We have a Government that is supportive of how we can grow and how we can make the place look better and how we can make Fiji Airports be significant not only locally but also internationally.”

Attorney-General and Minister for Civil Aviation Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum said the journey that Fiji Airports had undertaken, beginning a few years ago, had been met with a lot of criticism.

“I remember when we came up with the Airport Modernisation Act, when it was being put in place a lot of people were against it,” he said.

“People were saying we were not necessarily right, but it has proven to be right because this is prime real estate.

“We had rental here that was five times less than the rent in Namaka. How silly is that? “But that is what happened because people were in people’s pockets.”

Meanwhile, Fiji Airports’ next big event is the official opening of the refurbished Nadi International airport next week.