BY JAMES WILKINSON
Air Pacific has finally confirmed its long-term fleet strategy through the order of three brand new Airbus A330-200 aircraft to replace the airline’s ageing fleet of Boeing 747 and 767 aircraft.
The aircraft are due for delivery from early 2013 and Air Pacific’s Managing Director and CEO David Pflieger said the widebodies would be operated on flights to Fiji from Auckland, Hong Kong, Los Angeles and Sydney.
“This decision is a significant milestone in our 60-year history because it will be our first-ever purchase of new wide-body airplanes, and these state-of-the art A330s are clearly going to be planes that our customers and the people of Fiji will be thrilled to fly,” he said.
“In addition, I can’t begin to tell you how excited our team here in Fiji is with this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to design and outfit new aircraft that will embody the beauty and spirit of Fiji and its 333 islands.”
Pflieger said the acquisition of the new A330 aircraft signalled a bright future for the Nadi-based airline.
“It’s the right plane at the right time for our company, and it will set us up for another 60 years of success,” he said. “Our exhaustive evaluation proved not only that the A330-200 was the best plane for Air Pacific, but also that the features and capabilities of this new plane will complement our world-renowned customer service and ensure our passengers enjoy a spacious, comfortable, and relaxing flight on their way to or from Fiji.
“These A330s will be equipped with the latest in cabin seats and in-flight entertainment, and their optimised 222-inch wide fuselage will accommodate more passengers and cargo than our current B767.
“ In addition, these new jetliners will have a look and feel that is truly Fijian, appropriately reflecting Air Pacific’s role as Fiji’s ambassador to the world,” he said.
Meanwhile, in a significant boost to inbound tourism to Fiji, Air Pacific has signed a codeshare agreement with American Airlines.
Subject to United States government approval, American Airlines’ code will appear on Air Pacific flights from Los Angeles and Honolulu to Nadi, along with services between Nadi and Suva.
“This new codeshare relationship will give our customers seamless connecting opportunities to new destinations in the South Pacific,” said Kenji Hashimoto, American’s Vice President – Strategic Alliances. “We look forward to working with our latest partner, Air Pacific, in providing even more travel options for all of our customers.”
Pflieger added: “Air Pacific is delighted to join forces with American Airlines to offer our customers a world-class gateway to nearly 20 American cities. This codeshare relationship will bring new and returning travelers to the idyllic islands of Fiji, one of the most pristine and popular vacation destinations in the South Pacific.
“It’s a win-win (situation)… Air Pacific’s customers have the opportunity to earn AAdvantage miles on all Air Pacific flights, and American’s customers can use their AAdvantage miles on all Air Pacific routes to enjoy our renowned Fijian hospitality, including complimentary inflight meals, drinks, entertainment, our Nadi airport lounge facilities, and express lanes through customs and immigration for our Business (Tabua) Class passengers.”