Fiji Airways posts increase in full year profit

A Fiji Airways Airbus A330-200. (Airbus)

Fiji Airways has overcome the negative impact of Tropical Cyclone Winston and growing competition on international routes on the way to a 20 per cent improvement in full year profit in 2016.

The airline group, which covers Fiji Airways, Fiji Link and other subsidiaries, reported profit before tax of $FJ84.5 million for the 12 months to December 31 2016, up from $FJ70.2 million in the prior corresponding period.

It was the highest full year result in the company’s history, eclipsing calendar 2015’s record profit before tax.

Revenue rose one per cent to $FJ825.3 million, Fiji Airways said in a statement on Thursday, while passenger numbers were up 4.9 per cent.

Fiji Airways chief executive Andre Viljoen said the lift in profit came despite increased competition and lower airfares, which led to yields coming under pressure.

The airline also battled Tropical Cyclone Winston, which resulted in scores of flights cancelled in February 2016. Fiji Airways said efforts to stimulate travel to the country following the Tropical Cyclone through discounting cost it about FJ$40 million in lost revenue.

“To achieve these results is nothing short of outstanding – in a year when we had the most devastating cyclone in our nation’s history slow down tourism and the launch of three new international routes,” Viljoen said.

During 2016, Fiji Airways commenced service to Singapore and Vava’u, launched seasonal flights to San Francisco and increased frequencies to destinations such as Auckland, Hong Kong and Sydney.

And there is more growth to come, with the Fijian flag carrier due to start nonstop flights between Adelaide and Nadi from June. Also, Vikjoen said San Francisco would be extended to a year-round service in 2017.

The airline is also scheduled to open an upgraded premium passenger lounge at its Nadi hub in mid-2017.

“2017 will be another busy year as we’ve set bigger, even more ambitious goals for ourselves,” Viljoen said.

“This year we are targeting many further service improvements to attain the highly prized 4-Star Skytrax rating during 2018.”

Although Fiji Airways is majority government owned, Qantas holds 46 per cent of the airline, while Air New Zealand has about two per cent. The governments of Kiribati, Tonga, Samoa and Nauru also each have a small stake in the airline formerly known as Air Pacific.

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