Fiji Airways gets first Airbus A330 as part of rebranding

Fiji Airways' new A330-200

Fiji Airways has taken delivery of the first of three new A330-200s, the carrier’s first new plane in 30 years, as part of a larger overhaul. Source: Supplied

FIJI’S elite gathered with hundreds of spectators at Nadi International Airport today to watch the delivery of the holiday’s destination’s first Airbus A330.

There was a carnival atmosphere as aircraft, sporting striking new Fiji Aiways livery, performed a fly-past, and then landed to applause and cheers.

The A330 is a big step for Fiji’s Air Pacific and the island state and is one of three to be delivered this year. The three planes have a list price of $US600m and sport the latest lie-flat seats in business class and on-demand video throughout the plane. .

Air Pacific, which is rebranding as Fiji Airways, hopes the planes will help the airline better compete against Australian and New Zealand carriers.

It it is the first time Air Pacific, 46 per cent owned by Qantas, has purchased wide-body aircraft and its first Airbus aircraft. Christened The Island of Taveuni, the new plane will go into service on April 2 to Auckland.

Air Pacific chief executive David Pflieger said the national carrier’s success would help create more jobs and bring additional visitors, as well as boosting exports for the Fijian economy. Tourism accounts for about a third of Fiji’s economy and Air Pacific flies in almost two-thirds of the nation’s visitors..

“The arrival of our first Airbus A330 carrying the new Fiji Airways brand and Island of Taveuni name represents an exciting future that is rooted in our more-than-60-year history and service to the people of Fiji as the nation’s flying ambassador,’’ he said.

Another new plane arrives in May, with the third due in November. The Rolls Royce-powered planes will replace two 24-year-old Boeing 747-400s to give the airline a new level of operational efficiency.

The airline will fly its first A330 service to Brisbane on April 21, followed by Sydney on June 8 and Melbourne in December.

The carrier’s rebranding to Fiji Airways will officially take place in June and is part of a strategy aimed at capitalising on high global consumer awareness of Fiji as a holiday destination.

Officials believed airline’s current name and brand were not working because travellers did not associate Air Pacific with Fiji.

The carrier’s research had shown that online holiday-related searches for the word ‘Fiji’ were 10 times greater than those for Air Pacific and that the Fiji Airways name also drove interest in long-haul markets.

In China, a key growth market, the airline was forced to refer to itself as ‘Air Pacific, Fiji’s International Airline’ to avoid confusion with Cathay Pacific, Cebu Pacific and a Chinese air conditioning company.

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