A-G: Critical to have a healthy national airline

Attorney-General and Minister for Civil Aviation Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum says it is critical for Fiji to have a healthy national airline. Picture: SUPPLIED

Attorney-General and Minister for Civil Aviation Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum says it is critical for Fiji to have a healthy national airline. Picture: SUPPLIED

AS an island nation that is heavily dependent on tourism, it is critical for Fiji to have a healthy national airline.

This was the message from Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum while speaking at the Fiji Airways Group’s 2017 financial results announcement in Nadi this week.

“For a country that is an island country that is very heavily dependent on tourism, it is critically important for us to have a very healthy national carrier,” he said.

“There are many countries and I can give you numerous examples, for example, some countries in the Caribbean where they did not take the corrective measures to protect their national carrier and because they didn’t do so, the national carriers went under and they were cannibalised by overseas airlines.”

Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said for a tourism dependent country, having international airlines bring guests into the country was a huge risk.

“That means those people who came by that aircraft, the dollar actually went out because those airlines weren’t based in the country.

“It also meant there was a huge level of vulnerability. For example, when you have a cyclone here, everybody else pulls out or they actually stop flying and we have no control over it.”

Fiji Airways plans to grow passenger numbers on its overall network by 12.6 per cent this year.

The airline is targeting a 36 per cent increase for Asian tourists, 7.5 per cent for Australian guests, while planning to grow passenger numbers from New Zealand, North America and the Pacific by 9.6 per cent, 9.4 per cent and 18.4 per cent respectively.

Airline CEO and managing director Andre Viljoen said the company strove to achieve network growth, improved connectivity and revenue management

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