Fiji, a country in the South Pacific, is known for its beautiful beaches, amazing scuba diving and tropical island life. However, most Americans think Fiji is out of reach. “A large portion of the U.S. market considers Fiji an exotic destination that’s too far away and too expensive,” says Andre Viljoen, CEO and Managing Director of Fiji Airways. “The reality is quite the opposite—we’ve got regular, convenient connections from the West Coast to Nadi, which is our tourism hub—and we are more affordable than similar destinations like Tahiti or Hawaii.” He explains that Fiji Airways is making in-roads to be more visible in the U.S. mid-market as a viable choice when Americans make their next holiday plan.
We talked to Viljoen about the airlines changing demographic, its new fleet and what’s next for the company.
Fiji Not Just for Luxury Travelers
People often think of Fiji as a luxury market—what demographic is Fiji Airways targeting?
The U.S. middle-income market is a key focus for us going forward. We see a lot of untapped potential for tourists from the middle-income sector. We currently fly to Los Angeles and San Francisco, and across the border to Vancouver in Canada and while demand on these routes is very encouraging, there is potential to fill a lot more seats out of the U.S to Fiji.
A large portion of the US market considers Fiji an exotic destination that’s too far away and too expensive. The reality is quite the opposite – we’ve got regular, convenient connections from the West Coast to Nadi which is our tourism hub – and we are more affordable than similar destinations like Tahiti or Hawaii. Fiji Airways is now making in-roads to be more visible in the US mid-market, as a viable choice when Americans make their next holiday plan.
Fiji Airways Goals for 2023
What are the goals for Fiji Airways this year?
This year is about our journey to becoming a world-class airline as rated by the Airline Passenger Experience Association (APEX). We made a public commitment on Fiji Day (October 10, 2022) that we, as the national airline, will join the ranks of an elite group of airlines recognized above all others. Since then, we have been making continuous enhancements to our products and services onboard, as well as every other customer touchpoint in order to demonstrate the qualities expected of a world class Airline.
The airline has invested heavily in staff training and development, and explored many facets of product and service delivery developments to take the company to the next level. In fact we have systematically elevated Fiji Airways over the past five years to stand alongside industry giants and attain APEX five star major airline rating.
Talk about the new aircraft
Fiji Airways is in the process of acquiring two additional Airbus A350s to add to our fleet. We currently have two of these modern aircraft, and they work well for us in terms of our global network. The A350s are considered the most modern aircraft in the world with high efficiency, lower emissions, and increased passenger and cargo capacity. With these new aircraft, we will be able to increase the number of seats offered on some of our routes where demand is high. Over the long term, it gives us the ability to explore growth and expansion of our global network.
What is it like onboard Fiji Airways?
Our commitment to high quality service delivery – not just onboard but every customer perception point – is at the heart of who we are. This is what sets Fiji Airways apart from our competitors. We have over the years, invested heavily in staff development, leadership training, and inculcating a culture of service across the company whether it be senior managers or front line staff. This has led to the company being elevated from a three star airline five years ago, to being awarded the APEX Five Star Major Airline award for 2023, as well at the APEX Five Star Major Airline Asia/Pacific 2023. We’ve also won awards for best onboard staff, best seat comfort, best business class meals and a host of other international recognition which are a testament to our service vision to Work as One to Consistently Deliver Exceptional Fijian Experiences. It’s because of the Grit and Tenacity of our staff that we were able to reach these new heights and stand amongst the giants of the aviation industry.
Visitor Numbers Looking Good, Post Covid
Talk about Fiji’s rebound from Covid?
In 2022 the Fiji Airways Group carried a total of 1.3 million passengers, and that forward-bookings for the 6-month period Jan – June 2023 are 41.6% ahead of the same period in 2019. It is a remarkable achievement that in our first full year of operations post the COVID-19 Pandemic, with a number of key markets still closed and a challenging global operational environment, we managed to carry in excess of 1 million passengers.
Our forecast for 2023 full-year is to carry 2 million passengers. This is beyond anything that we could have imagined when borders reopened and flights resumed on December 1, 2020. We had anticipated and planned for a slow ramp-up in service. We were pleasantly surprised to see the demand for travel to Fiji. Within months we had returned to 70 percent of our international markets, and currently only Hong Kong and Narita in Japan remain closed. We are returning to these destinations in April of 2023.
Family and Multigeneration Travel to Fiji
Talk about traveling with kids on Fiji Airways
Fiji Airways has developed (in-house) an onboard kids pack which has also been internationally recognized. The kit is dedicated to educating travelers between the ages of 2 and 12 on the importance of preserving and protecting Fiji’s beautiful yet fragile marine environment by telling the story of Saboo the sea turtle and his ocean friends. Each kit includes a storybook, sticker pad, puzzle and finger puppet in a colorful beach bag. These awards place Fiji Airways among the world’s safest and most family-friendly airlines –– and we’re grateful to every passenger for delivering us this recognition.
Sustainability in Fiji
What Are Some Sustainability Projects Fiji Airways
Inspired by the success of the kid’s pack, we have launched a tour that lets you experience a fascinating day planting mangroves and exploring a turtle breeding sanctuary. You get to help hand feed the sea turtles before you enter the land and sea building displaying live corals, tropical fish, several species of Fijian insects, moths and butterflies, shells, and freshwater fish.
What is the background of Fiji Airways?
Founded in 1951, Fiji Airways Group comprises of Fiji Airways and Fiji Link serve 108 destinations in over 15 countries (including code-share). Destinations include Fiji, Australia, New Zealand, the US, Canada, the UK, Hong Kong (SAR China), Singapore, India, Japan, China, Samoa, Tonga, Tuvalu, Kiribati, Vanuatu and Solomon Islands. The Fiji Airways Group brings in 70 percent of all visitors who fly to Fiji, employs over 1000 employees, and is targeting to earn revenues of over FJD$1.5 billion (USD $680m) in 2023.
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