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Fiji Airways takes first Boeing 737 MAX 8

written by australianaviation.com.au | December 3, 2018

A Fiji Airways Boeing 737 MAX 8. (Boeing)
A Fiji Airways Boeing 737 MAX 8. (Boeing)

Fiji Airways has become the first operator in Oceania to take delivery of the Boeing 737 MAX.

The airline received 737 MAX 8 DQ-FAB at Boeing’s Renton facility in Washington State on Friday, November 30.

The two-leg delivery flight began with a six-and-a-half hour trip from Boeing Field to Honolulu. After a two-night stop in Hawaii, the final leg departed at about 0600 on Sunday morning, arriving at Nadi at about 1250 local time on Monday, according to flight tracking website Flightaware.

Fiji Airways has ordered five Boeing 737 MAX 8s, with all aircraft expected to be delivered by the middle of 2019.

The aircraft are slated to replace its existing narrowbody fleet of four 737-800s and one 737-700 that are used on short- and medium-haul routes to Australia, New Zealand, Hawaii, Kiribati, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga and Vanuatu.

“We are thrilled to take delivery of our very first 737 MAX 8, named Island of Kadavu,” Fiji Airways chief executive Andre Viljoen said in a statement.

“The introduction of the 737 MAX is the beginning of a new chapter for Fiji Airways and we look forward to taking advantage of the airplane’s superior performance and economics.

“These new airplanes will enable us to offer a world-class customer experience through the new Boeing Sky Interior cabins with in-seat entertainment for all guests.”

Fiji Airways was scheduled to be the second airline to fly the 737 MAX to Australia when it deploys the next generation aircraft on the Nadi-Adelaide route later in December.

Currently, it uses the 737-800 on the twice-weekly service between the two cities, having started the route in June 2017.



Singapore Airlines’ regional wing Silkair was the first airline to operate the 737 MAX to Australia when flying to Cairns and Darwin in January 2018 with the type.

There are two other Boeing 737 MAX customers in Oceania. Virgin Australia has 40 of the type on order – a combination of 737 MAX 8s and the larger 737 MAX 10 – with first delivery due at the end of calendar 2019, while Air Niugini was expected to take the first of four MAX aircraft from 2020.

Meanwhile, Qantas is expected to run a competition between the 737 MAX and A320neo at some future point for the replacement of its existing 737-800 fleet.

The MAX family features a new flightdeck, fly-by-wire spoilers and new technology winglets compared with the 737 NG on which it is based. It is powered by two CFM International LEAP 1B 176cm fan diameter engines, compared with the 155cm fan diameter CFM56 on the NG.

To accommodate the larger engine, the MAX incorporates a taller nose wheel landing gear leg, while the engine nacelles’ trailing edges feature noise-reducing chevron shaping, as also seen on the 787.

“We are delighted to welcome Fiji Airways to the MAX family of operators and we are thrilled they will be the first 737 MAX operator in the Pacific Islands,” Boeing senior vice president of commercial sales and marketing Ihssane Mounir said in a statement.

“We are honoured by their continued partnership and confidence in Boeing products. The market-leading efficiency of the MAX will pay immediate dividends for Fiji Airways and will help them improve their operation and route network.”

The official handover of the first Fiji Airways Boeing 737 MAX 8. (Boeing/Twitter)
The official handover of the first Fiji Airways Boeing 737 MAX 8. (Boeing/Twitter)
A Fiji Airways Boeing 737 MAX 8. (Boeing/Twitter)
A Fiji Airways Boeing 737 MAX 8. (Boeing/Twitter)

It was announced in June that Fiji Airways would be the first airline to join the oneworld marketing alliance under a new “oneworld connect” category.

The new category allowed airlines that wished to join the alliance but did not have either the resources, or need, to offer full reciprocity of frequent flyer benefits and integration with the rest of the full oneworld membership the opportunity to do so.

Viljoen said at the time the order was announced in November 2016 the five 737 MAXes would be delivered via a 12-year sale-and-leaseback financing arrangement as part of a package deal with GE Capital Aviation Services (GECAS), Boeing and engine manufacturer CFM.

Further, the airline said Boeing Global Services’ would support its 737 MAX operations with its airplane health management real-time monitoring and software distribution tools program.

There have been 4,783 total orders for the 737 MAX family of aircraft, according to the Boeing website. The manufacturer has delivered 241 of the type.

The June 2018 magazine edition of Australian Aviation had a feature story on Fiji Airways written by Tom Ballantyne. That story can be read here.

VIDEO: A look at Fiji Airways’ Boeing 737 MAX 8 from the airline’s YouTube channel.

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Comments (10)

  • David


    surely it would make sense for Fiji Airways to keep one or 2 of their old 738s as surely leasing costs would be very low now.

    Plenty of places Fiji Airways could serve in Australia, like Canberra & Gold Coast & offer 1 stop service to LAX & SFO without the need to chnage terminals, at eg. BNE, SYD, MEL or AKL.

    Would only need to be twice a week initially.

  • Corey


    Qantas just need to hurry up and order the MAX8 and maybe some MAX9s or MAX10s for the tri routes which are always full. It would be very very stupid of Qantas to order the A320 NEO family as they’d have to fully retrain all their pilots to the A320 family but furthermore it would mean additional training for an A320 pilot to go to the Boeing 787s, 777X or 797s. By ordering the MAX family pilot, cabin and maintenance crew training is kept to a minimum. Furthermore, it means less training for a 737 pilot to jump into the 787 seats or 797 or 77X if they buy them. Overall short and long term it’s cheaper to buy the 737MAX. Qantas just need to hurry up and get some more 787-9s along with getting some 787-10s into the fleet with slightly higher seating for the Asian markets. It is sad to see the 747s go with no new 747s coming into the fleet.

    • PH


      I have to agree – as much as I’d love to see the 320neo family in QF colours, I just don’t think it’s gonna happen. I also agree that the MAX 10 would be a boon across the Golden Triangle, with every -800 flight I’ve taken in the last two years being chocked to the eyeballs, QF could surely soak-up the additional capacity with no problems.

  • David


    corey you seem to forget that the Qantas group flies a lot of airbuses. Jetstars A320/1s & Qantas A380s

  • Stu Bee


    I have to agree with David to a extent. Qantas Group does have a lot of A320’s with plenty on order for the group too. The use of panellised baggage is also a benefit to them and could see this a reason to change over to Airbus product for the mainline group… lessens the opportunities for back injuries etc for loaders…

    On another point, whilst the A380’s are great aircraft, they are expensive and very labour intensive aircraft and Qantas have been recommended by Airbus to reduce their utilisation as QF has the highest utilisation of A380 in the world.

  • Corey


    @David. Yes I get Qantas has A330s and A380s in their main fleet and A320s for Jetstar. The A320s on order by Qantas are for Jetstar for not only here in AUS but also other branches. The Commonality with the Boeing 737, 787 and the possible 777X and 797 in the QF mainline fleet reduces overall pilot training. Furthermore it would be an easy retrofit to their current 737 simulators and they wouldn’t need to buy all brand new ones which they’d have to do if they converted over to A320NEO. QF had to use their 747 for domestic flights this year because their 737 pilot shortage caused by 737 pilots being trained up for the 787s. To hear that Airbus have told Qantas to not use their A380s as much is surprising and goes to show they build such as great product. It will be interesting to see what they order for Project Sunrise. 787 and 777 have common pilot type rating. However, the A330 and A350 also have a common type rating. Furthermore Qantas should increase their seating capacity on the 787-9s to 260 seats up 24 seats in a 30, 28 and 202 configuration and use the 787-10s for a 1 stop to EU in a 312-321 seats total in a 42, 56 and 214-223 or 30, 56, 238 totaling to 324. More bums on seats using the current seat design means more profit for Qantas. Yes, the seats would be filled. The 787-10s could fly into Singapour, Japan, China, Thailand etc along with Europe with a stopover in either Singapour or Malaysia. By growing the 787 fleets and reducing the other current aircraft means lower operating costs overall. Some if not all A332s could be flogged off to the RAAF for tanker conversion and a couple of the S33s could be converted into freighters replacing their 767s. It would reduce the fleet types which is a good thing. Overall it’s cheaper to replace the 737NG with 737MAX, it’s cheaper to replace the A330s with 787s, it would make more sense to buy the 777X over the A350s. Remember the A320s on order are for JETSTAR AUS, JAPAN, ASIA and PACIFIC. All 4 Jetstar companies have a total of 113 A320s or A321s which are being replaced by the current order of A320s on which parent company Qantas ordered. Another note to remember Qantas ordered the 787s the first 8 went to Jetstar. Overall I really don’t care too much and Qantas has proven they don’t care about fuel savings too much as they haven’t even bothered to install the Scimitar winglets which have a greater than 2% fuel saving with a 30-40% cruise performance improvement reducing fuel burn even greater.

  • salesh


    What is the maximum ETOPS on max?

  • Tomasi Turagava


    With the Fiji Airways 8-10 % projected growth factor for 2019 & beyond as announced by it’s CEO Andre Viljoen, my analysis would be on 8 & not 5 Boeing 737 MAX 8s. Mark this assumption, FJ will get another 3 MAX 8s in the near future, as a consequence of substantial growth on market routes & new ones like HOBART,CANBERRA,DARWIN TOWNSVILLE direct services.

  • John


    why wouldn’t Fiji Airways extend leases on 1 or 2 of current 737-800s ? Leases would surely be cheap. Maintenance dept familiar with them & no repaint required.

    Hobart ? Think before Hobart Fiji Airways(FJ) needs a daylight flight MEL/NAN.

    Canberra – done before but marketing very badly. Could work if promoted as easy way to get to LAX/SFO rather than changing at awful BNE, SYD, MEL.

    Darwin ? Reintroduction of Gold Coast should come well before Darwin. Again, FJ could promote as easy way to get to LAX, SFO. Currently only other way 1 stop is via Air NZ & not a very good airline & you have to head south first.

    Townsville ? Guess low frequency, ie. twice a week, could work as long as connects with nonstop flights to LAX & SFO.

    Cairns has Air NZ via AKL, which avoids changing from domestic to international terminals in OZ>

  • Peter


    Lots of dreamers on this story which ended up being mainly about QF.

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