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$5m for comfort

Geraldine Panapasa
Saturday, July 27, 2013

THE Wakaya Group has invested $5million for the acquisition of a brand new top-of-the-line luxury aircraft in Fiji.

The aircraft, an 11-seater Cessna Grand Caravan Ex, would be based in Nadi and available to the public for charter.

Owner and FIJI Water founder David Gilmour said the latest addition to its assets would allow travellers to arrive at their destination calm, cool and collected.

"People come to Wakaya on a private plane but mostly commercial. Now Fiji has this magnificent new aircraft and when you get off the aircraft, there's a bit of a void in the continuity of quality of transport within Fiji," he said yesterday.

"So I felt it was very important to bring in the latest technology where our visitors feel totally comfortable in this luxurious and fast airplane — it takes 35 minutes to fly from Nadi to Wakaya. We brought in a trainer, who is a top teacher with Cessna, and he's staying here for several months to train the pilot and copilots. I only want to use local pilots, which is the same as the Wakaya Club where I only have Fijian chefs.

"We want this to be a wonderful indigenous experience. Anyone who comes to Fiji is not stacked with Europeans who are totally capable. But I'd rather teach a Fijian to do the same job because we need employment in this country." He said this investment would generate a lot of interest and government did not have to invest in anything.

"It's our job to do that. All government does is create favourable conditions that make things happen quickly. We have nothing but total praise for government. We're asking for whatever help that is not an expense to the government, get on with business and create export dollars," he said.

Mr Gilmour, who recently featured in Forbes Magazine March 2013 issue for his latest ginger product, Wakaya Perfection, said delays in business processes often created an impediment to real growth.

Meanwhile, central bank governor Barry Whiteside said investment activity was extremely buoyant.





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