Air Pacific to become Fiji Airways again

Air Pacific has opted to return to its old name as part of a broader overhaul of its money losing business.

Fijian national carrier Air Pacific will return to its maiden name of Fiji Airways, part of a broader overhaul of its image as the partly Qantas-owned airline works to turn around its struggling business.

The airline, which is 46 per cent owned by Qantas, has been in the midst of a restructure since it reported a record F$91.8 million operating loss in 2009-10. The carrier bounced back last year, reporting losses of F$3.6 million.

The airline said the name change was part of the final phase of its overhaul and was designed to strengthen the carrier’s links with South Pacific tourism.

“Globally there is high consumer awareness of Fiji as a holiday destination,” said David Pflieger, Air Pacific’s managing director and CEO. “We want to strengthen that association and also promote Fiji in every country we fly to. Returning to Fiji Airways will better reflect our role as Fiji’s national carrier, and also assist Fiji by growing tourism and interest in the nation.”

The airline said it would unveil its new brand and logo in July and expected to complete the transition to new livery by the end of 2013. The carrier was known as Fiji Airways from its launch in 1958 until 1970.

Qantas has been in talks with Fiji’s military government to sell its stake in the airline since 2010, though the talks have reportedly stalled over price. In March, the Fijian government, which came to power in a 2006 coup, issued a decree barring foreign control of the airline in response to what it said was Qantas’s excessive power over the carrier. Qantas denied that it exercised effective control over the airline.