Fiji Airways is getting a Boeing 737-800 aircraft on lease as cover for the grounding of its 737 MAX 8 fleet.
The 737-800 is being sourced from United States-based charter company Miami Air and will serve Apia, Auckland, Brisbane and Christchurch, Fiji Airways said in a statement on Wednesday.
The aircraft is configured with 166 seats in a single-class configuration. By comparison, Fiji Airways’ 737 MAX 8s have eight business class and 162 economy class seats for a total of 170.
Fiji Airways said it decided to lease the aircraft to limit any disruption to travellers during the upcoming peak period.
“While the airline recognises that the onboard experience and facilities will differ from its usual offering, it will do everything possible to ensure that guests continue to enjoy a comfortable experience,” the airline said.
“Fiji Airways will contact Business Class guests booked on flights which will now be operated by the leased aircraft to provide travel options.”
Miami Air will operate the aircraft with its own pilots and cabin crew alongside a Fiji Airways purser or senior flight attendant.
Fiji Airways received its first 737 MAX 8 in December 3 2018, with a second delivered in early 2019.
The Nadi-headquartered carrier has ordered five 737 MAX 8s, with all aircraft expected to be delivered by the middle of 2019.
However, the schedule may be subject to change given the global grounding in response to two fatal accidents prompted Boeing to slow production and pause deliveries while it works on a software update to the aircraft’s anti-stall system.
The 737 MAX 8s were slated to replace Fiji Airways’ 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.
Fiji Airways also has a fleet of six Airbus A330, of which five were the smaller A330-200 and one was the larger A330-300.