Oneworld connect partner Fiji Airways is considering possible investments and Joint Ventures (JV) with carriers in the South Pacific region, similar to what Ethiopian Airlines is doing on the African continent.
“Many carriers are asking us for support,” managing director and chief executive officer Andre Viljoen told Air Transport World.
In June, African Star Alliance carrier Ethiopian Airlines announced plans to launch new airlines in Chad, Guinea, Mozambique and Zambia before the end of 2018.
Mr Viljoen said the Ethiopian strategy is “a model we are looking at. But we must do this step-by-step. I think it is something we can consider going forward. We’ve got countries like Tonga where we believe we can assist other carriers and we certainly want to keep talking to them.”
He said Fiji Airways has been approached by a few smaller carriers for a possible investment, assistance or a JV.
“We are the model they are aspiring to,” he said.
For some islands, Fiji Airways provides the only link to international flight connections. The carrier serves 21 destinations in 13 countries and territories.
“We are ‘the’ carrier (in the South Pacific) and they rely on us because many passengers come from remote islands like Tonga, Samoa or Kiribati to our hub at Nadi International Airport and then connect to the world,” Mr Viljoen said.
“We see ourselves growing and could fly to destinations like Nouméa in New Caledonia or to Papeete in Tahiti. [There are] lots of opportunities.”
On June 3, the Oneworld global alliance introduced a new membership tier, with Fiji Airways becoming the first Oneworld connect partner.
Fiji Airways and its regional subsidiary Fiji Link operates 18 aircraft, comprising five Airbus A330s, five Boeing 737NGs and eight turboprops (a mix of ATR 72s, ATR 42s and DHC6-Twin Otters). The carrier expects to receive its sixth A330 and its first 737 MAX 8 later this year.
[Source: Fiji Sun Online]