THREE years of intense negotiations and hard work by the 900 staff of the soon-to-be-rebranded Air Pacific culminated in the arrival of the brand new Airbus A330-200 christened Island of Taveuni.
The flyby over Fiji, witnessed by thousands, was an emotional moment. The billion-dollar investment in the purchase of three Airbus A330-200 aircraft was made possible through a loan from the Fiji National Provident Fund and a financing agreement secured with KfW IPEX-Bank and Helaba guaranteed by the Export Credits Guarantee Department of the British Government.
Prime Minister Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama led invited guests and dignitaries when the aircraft, designed with traditional motifs and designs, touched down on the tarmac at Nadi yesterday.
Fiji Airways logo and traditional motif designer Makareta Matemosi was present for the traditional ceremonies of welcome.
"It is more beautiful than I could have ever imagined," she said of her first glimpse of the plane.
Outgoing chief executive officer and managing director David Pflieger said the arrival of the Airbus underscored the success of the national carrier's turnaround plan which began in 2010.
"This has culminated in reversing record losses and significantly growing passengers and revenue without increasing the size of the carrier's fleet," he said.
President Ratu Epeli Nailatikau and Tourism permanent secretary Elizabeth Powell were among the 60 guests that accompanied the aircraft on its final leg from Hong Kong to Fiji.