Fiji Airways is back in the air and has resumed flights between Nadi and Australia’s three big east coast cities. Fiji Airways and the broader Fijian economy heavily rely on tourist traffic from Australia. But two months after airlines resumed flying between the two countries, Australia-based carriers are already trimming services. However, Fiji Airways remains bullish on the sector and its chances of success.
Fiji Airways pumps capacity into the Australian market
Fiji Airways is now flying between Nadi and Sydney daily and frequently double daily. Melbourne sees a Fiji Airways MAX 8 fly in most days of the week and Brisbane also now sees several Fiji Airways MAX 8 flights each week. The schedule isn’t quite as comprehensive as it was in pre-travel downturn days. However, it is a fast return to form considering Fiji only recently reopened its border, and entry restrictions remain in place in Australia.
It’s an ambitious early schedule considering passenger numbers on routes between Australia and Fiji are less than the airlines planned for. But as reported in Hotel Management† Fiji Airways’ Shaenaz Voss outlined the airline’s bullish position on its Australian flights.
“We’ve put so much capacity into Australia,” Fiji Airways General Manager of Corporate Communications said. “When we started opening up, we were overwhelmed. We left no stone unturned, we needed to go out and put on as much capacity as we could. But the seats have been taken up, and I think the first quarter of 2022 will go really well for us.”
Fiji Airways has resumed flying to Sydney, Melbourne, and Brisbane. Photo: Boeing
Competitors struggle on the Australia – Fiji routes
With its superior frequencies and generally better aircraft on the Australia – Fiji routes, Fiji Airways has long enjoyed the lion’s share of the market between the two countries. But with viable international flying opportunities limited out of Australia, Australian carriers also quickly jumped back into the market when travel restrictions between the two countries recently eased.
Australian carriers Qantas and Jetstar also now fly between Sydney and Nadi, although less frequently than Fiji Airways. Qantas operates a Boeing 737-800 service two or three times a week. Jetstar also scoots across to Nadi twice a week. Virgin Australia relaunched flights to Nadi from Sydney and Melbourne but has since quietly suspended both services.
According to Ms Voss, Fiji Airways’ success on these routes where other airlines clearly struggle is about more than frequencies and aircraft types – it’s about trying harder.
“We consider ourselves a small airline in the South Pacific that punches above its weight, and we’ve proven that over and over again with what we do onboard and how we present ourselves. We’ve got a great CEO – he has really taken this airline to a different level.”
No looking back for Fiji Airways
Australia is usually Fiji’s biggest source of tourists. However, most Australians are proving reluctant to hop on non-essential international flights and despite the spin, that’s meant demand for seats to Fiji is less than the airlines hoped for. Bad press about holidaymakers stranded in Fijian resorts over the Christmas / New Year period because of fast-changing COVID rules also dampened demand for travel to Fiji. But Fiji Airways’ communications boss thinks these issues are small-time obstacles compared to other challenges the airline has faced in recent years.
“A year ago, no one knew what was going to happen, but we as an airline have evolved and there is no looking back for us. We consistently get stronger and better.”
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