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Fiji Airways puts Adelaide-Nadi on “pause”

written by australianaviation.com.au | July 2, 2019
A file image of Fiji Airways aircraft at Nadi Airport. (Rob Finlayson)
A file image of Fiji Airways aircraft at Nadi Airport. (Rob Finlayson)

Fiji Airways is ending nonstop flights between Adelaide and Nadi just over two years starting flights to the South Australian capital.

The airlines currently serves Adelaide from its Nadi hub two times a week with Boeing 737-800 equipment.

The last flight is scheduled to operate on Saturday, July 20.

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Fiji Airways said the decision to withdraw from the route followed a review of the network and fleet.

“Taking into account a number of factors, including the aircraft currently available within our fleet, we have decided to pause our direct flights to and from Adelaide,” Fiji Airways said in an emailed statement to Australian Aviation on Tuesday.

“We are currently in direct conversation with customers that have booked Adelaide flights to organise alternative travel arrangements.

“All other routes remain unchanged.”

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Fiji Airways commenced nonstop flights to Adelaide in June 2017. It had hoped the route would help support its long-haul flights from Nadi to Los Angeles and San Francisco by offering Australians a new one-stop option to the United States.

The inaugural FJ961 arrives at the gate at Adelaide. (Ryan Hothersall)
The inaugural Fiji Airways Nadi-Adelaide service FJ961 arrives at the gate at Adelaide in July 2017. (Ryan Hothersall)

In December 2018, it upgauged the Adelaide service from 164-seat 737-800s to 170-seat 737 MAX 8s, becoming the second airline to fly the next-generation narrowbody to Australia.

However, the global grounding of the 737 MAX in March, following the fatal crash of an Ethiopian Airlines flight, had meant bringing back the 737-800 on the route.

Fiji Airways received its first 737 MAX 8 in December 2018 and has two of the type in its fleet.

It had been due to receive a further three 737 MAX 8s in 2019. Instead, it has leased a 737-800s as cover while Boeing pauses deliveries and works on a software fix to an anti-stall feature on the 737 MAX implicated in both the Ethiopian Airways accident and another fatal crash involving a Lion Air flight in October 2018.

The 737 MAX 8s were slated to replace Fiji Airways’ existing narrowbody fleet of four 737-800s and one 737-700 used on short- and medium-haul routes to Australia, New Zealand, Hawaii, Kiribati, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga and Vanuatu.

The end of nonstop flights to Adelaide will reduce the airline’s Australian network to three destinations – Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney – served with a mix of 737-800s and Airbus A330s.

A file image of Fiji Airways' first 737 MAX 8 on approach to Adelaide. (Ryan Hothersall)
A file image of Fiji Airways’ first 737 MAX 8 on approach to Adelaide. (Ryan Hothersall)

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9 Comments

  • David

    says:

    a daylight flight out of ADL late am, would have connected with NAN/LAX & depending on day of week NAN/SFO.

    With Fiji air getting 2 x A359s starting 1JAN, they will have 61 extra seats a day ex SYD, cf. an A332 & 61 extra seats a day NAN/LAX cf. an A332 (noting that sometimes SYD/NAN & NAN/LAX is operated by slightly bigger A333 with 40 extra Y seats than their A332s).

    Perhaps instead of QF operating a 738 SYD/NAN in direct competition with FJ (which Qantas has around 46% of Fiji air) & Jetstar, QF should fly ADL/NAN, if FJ only have aircraft available for red eye flights ADL/NAN. Alternatively, Jetstar could operate ADL/NAN to connect to NAN/LAX & NAN/SFO. Surely Fiji air & Jetstar could work out something, where passenger ex ADL on Jetstar, continuing onto USA could get baggage, meal & drinks included ? It’s not rocket science.

  • ian

    says:

    FJ “found” an aircraft to fly some MEL/NAN flights in daylight, that connect to USA out of Fiji, rather than just the red eyes.

    Surely, they could find another aircraft to operate 1 or 2 services a week ADL/Fiji ? What about big brother QF/JQ ?

    Having flown a few red eyes to Fiji, it’s not pleasant having 2 hours sleep at maximum & arriving at 5am. If aircraft originated in OZ, then the issue would then be that flights didn’t connect to ADL from USA, but if anyone didn’t want a night or 2 in Fiji(cos they were crazy) they could always fly Fiji/SYD or BNE or MEL & connect domestically onto ADL.

  • Kim

    says:

    Maybe Qantas could step in and have at least 1 International flight from Adelaide!

  • Red Cee

    says:

    Could have been placed on ice due to low demand. Simply a matter of not enough passengers, and the service wasn’t making money. Economics at work.

  • Kapo

    says:

    David regardless of whether QF has a 46% interest in FJ, they would very much prefer that pax ex-ADL use the very much 100% QF services from the east coast hubs to the US.

    It is an FJ imperative to feed both the Fiji tourist sector and their own services onwards to the US not QF.
    If the O&D market on the ADL-NAN was economically viable then FJ would find other routes to cut in the face of shortage of capacity due to the MAX grounding.

  • Marcus

    says:

    Kim that suggests a thought outside the square box.

  • Cameron

    says:

    I am one of the upcoming travellers in March 2020. Yet to even receive a single email about this, and I purchased on their website directly. I am hoping it’s because they hope to resume flights again by that stage *wishful thinking*. I plan to call them next week to sort out what the new flights will be. The new proposed flights showing in my booking have a 5-minute layover between my flight from Tokyo to Nadi and my next flight Nadi to Sydney … and then there is no flight from Sydney to Adelaide 😐

    • David

      says:

      March ?

      Most airlines are more concerned about surviving next month.

      Am sure you are very low priority, but it will be sorted out. If NAN/ADL doesn’t continue, you’ll fly FJ to BNE, SYD or MEL, then Qantas or Virgin from there.

      BTW minimum connecting time at NAN (int to int with same airline is about 60 mins, so 1 flight just needs to change by 55 mins or they’ll do a tarmac transfer – seen this done at NAN a few times. BY this I mean, you won’t go back into lounge, just go from 1 aircraft door directly to another)

  • Tony

    says:

    I’ve flown ADL- NAN twice in last 15 months. 2nd time (May 2019) the flight was prob 85-90% full which was a big increase over 12 months earlier. Was researching my next trip and the price had jumped over 40% from $635 return (both times), to just under $900. That has to be a factor if numbers and/or profitability has dropped off?

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