THE newest addition to the Fiji Airways Group fleet is expected to commence its first direct commercial flight to a new route early next week from Suva to Apia in Samoa.
This followed its arrival at the Nausori Airport yesterday.
Fiji Airways CEO Stefan Pichler said the new ATR 72-600 aircraft, which would join the Fiji Link — formerly Pacific Sun — fleet, would be seen on other key routes.
"The connection of the two Pacific capitals (Suva and Apia) will allow the business and tertiary education markets to travel more frequently, and directly," he said.
"At home, customers will fly it between Nadi and Suva.
In the region, customers will enjoy it between Nadi and Nuku'alofa, Nadi-Vila, Suva-Vila, and Nadi-Apia."
He said the aircraft would replace the ATR 42 and Boeing 737s, which were servicing those routes.
Mr Pichler said they could deploy the B737 to other routes such as Australia, New Zealand and Hawaii.
"So you can see the spin-off benefits of this for Fiji's tourism industry. More services from our popular tourist routes, means more seats and ultimately, more tourists," Mr Pichler said.
The aircraft started her maiden voyage from Toulouse in France to Egypt, Oman, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, to Darwin and Brisbane in Australia.
Fiji Link CEO Shaenaz Voss said it took the better part of the week for the aircraft to reach Fiji, adding their crew did "extremely well".