Fiji Airways says it will add four additional aircraft, increase seat capacity by 35 per cent and staff numbers by nearly 30 per cent under a new five-year strategic plan.
The renamed Air Pacific says it will lease or buy an additional A330-200, two 737-800s and two ATR 72-600s (one of which will replace an existing ATR 42) by 2017 as part of an ambitious plan to increase passengers numbers by 39 per cent over the next five years and to post operating profits of FJ$100 million a year.
“It is our aim is to be a world class boutique airline and we must match that with an ambitious but solid financial growth plan which expands on current successes and takes our airline to a new level,” CEO Stefan Pichler said.
“We need to be sustainably profitable and have a healthy cash flow to pay off our debts and fund new aircraft.”
Flights to Asia will be the biggest beneficiary of the increased capacity, the airline saying capacity to Asian markets will increase by 144 per cent over the period, which suggests that the extra A330 capacity will be predominantly deployed on Asia services. Intra Pacific flights will also grow strongly, by 86.6 per cent, followed by a 58.9 per cent increase in capacity to New Zealand, 28.4 per cent to Australia, Fiji domestic capacity by 12.3 per cent, and a small (-4.7 per cent) decline in capacity to the US.
“In terms of our network expansion plans, we will not be taking a ‘trial and error’ approach. We are focused on the deliberate selection of new routes together with the best airline partnerships,” Pichler said. “Selection and timings of new routes will depend on detailed scheduling studies together with interlining and code-sharing opportunities, and we will announce these as they are finalised.”
Fiji Airways is 46 per cent owned by Qantas, although the Australia airline no longer has a seat on the airline’s board following ongoing disputes with majority shareholder, the Fijian government.