Fiji’s national airline, Fiji Airways, has announced key details from its five year strategic plan which had been approved by the airline’ s Board in mid-December 2013.
Expanding the airline’s route network through key airline partnerships, increasing operating profits and passenger numbers, as well as growing the number of aircraft and available seats, are just some of the key focus areas for Fiji Airways within this plan.
Stefan Pichler, Managing Director and CEO of Fiji Airways, said this was the first time that a strategic plan for the airline was developed bottom up from the management and with input from its customers, people and stakeholders.
“This is our plan, we believe in it and we will make it happen,” he said. “This is what we want to deliver by building and performing under a highly inspirational global brand – Fiji Airways.”
The airline will increase its fleet size by 25% with the purchase and/or leasing of four new aircraft, including one A330-200, two B737-800s and two ATR72- 600s (one as a replacement for an ATR 42-500), by 2017.
The additional aircraft will support the company’s plans to grow the number of available seats across all markets by more than a third (35%), and an increase in passenger numbers by 39%, over the next five years.
Proposed capacity increases across the regions include Asia (144%), Pacific Islands (86.6%), New Zealand (58.9%), Australia (28.4%) and Domestic (12.3%), while the current seat availability to the US remains stable (- 4.7%).
Pichler said the airline will put in place an aggressive financial performance strategy to increase operating profits above FJD$100 million, which have been planned assuming fuel prices and currency exchange rates at the current levels.
“It is our aim is to be a world class boutique airline and we must match that with an ambitious but solid financial growth plan which expands on current successes and takes our airline to a new level,” he said.
“We need to be sustainably profitable and have a healthy cash flow to pay off our debts and fund new aircraft.
Pichler said becoming financially stable and re-investing in the company’s fleet is imperative for Fiji Airways’ future, but key of the future plans is also to build and maintain a strong and loyal workforce.
“As Fiji’s National Airline we have a responsibility to provide job and career opportunities for Fijians. Our already announced staff profit share programme forms an integral part of all our financial planning as well,” he said.
“We have plans to increase our total staff numbers by 28.5% and will invest in a trainee programme and training so we can qualify local people in roles across the company. Part of our vision for 2017 is to be the employer of choice for Fijians.”
The airline has already announced three schedule changes resulting from the plan – new direct Sydney-Suva and Apia-Suva services to open up the East Coast to holiday makers and business travellers alike; and an amendment to some Auckland – Nadi departure times to improve ferry and flight connections with the Outer Islands.
“In terms of our network expansion plans, we will not be taking a ‘trial and error’ approach… we are focused on the deliberate selection of new routes together with the best airline partnerships.
“Selection and timings of new routes will depend on detailed scheduling studies together with interlining and codesharing opportunities, and we will announce these as they are finalised.”
Pichler thanked the Fiji Airways management team which has worked hard to prepare the strategic masterplan that will grow the airline’s network and help drive tourism and the economy in Fiji.