Air Pacific, soon to be rebranded Fiji Airways, is taking delivery of three new Airbus A-3-30 wide-bodied aircraft.
The President of the Fiji Hotel and Tourism Association, Dixon Seeto says the new planes have a longer range than those already in service.
He told Steve Rice this has the potential to opens up new markets.
Presenter: Steve Rice
Speaker: The President of the Fiji Hotel and Tourism Association, Dixon Seeto
SEETO: Well I believe that they're due to come into service sometime in May, that's after they've had I guess the proper introduction to the staff. The first one arrives I think on March 19th. into Nadi.
RICE: This coincides with Air Pacific changing its name to Fiji Airways is that right?
SEETO: That's correct, yeah, that's part of their rebranding with the new aircraft, they will be Fiji Airways.
RICE: Why are these A330's different from the current aircraft in operation?
SEETO: Well, it's just like I guess for you driving a very old model Holden versus driving a flash new car. It's definitely the latest technology, very fuel efficient. It has range and it has capacity in terms of daily space for freight. So when you put all this together, it just gives Air Pacific or Fiji Airways the advantages that they did not have before in terms of having a very fuel efficient aircraft in the range. So they're able to carry people further and at a much better cost, given the way fuel prices are going. But more importantly, they also have with the latest aircraft, the latest inflight entertainment, so when you look at the competition, which has these new aircraft, I think Air Pacific was operating at a disadvantage before. All that will be a thing in the past and the industry's looking with great excitement to the arrival of the new aircraft, the fact that it's going to be like a flying billboard, because our country's name Fiji will be very prominent on the fuselage. And when you have that kind of advantages, you would definitely say, well, yeah, I'd like to travel with Fiji Airways. I'm certain in the future, it will give Fiji Airways more potential to tap into new markets, especially with our Look North policy into Asia.
RICE: With this new range, what new parts of Asia will it bring into the range of Fiji's tourism?
SEETO: Not that we're ignoring our existing markets, the near market of Australia and New Zealand, that aircraft will also service those markets, but certainly the market in Asia. I mean points that are sort of just on the border and beyond the range of the old aircraft, including Beijing, Shanghai and places like that or even India would become a reality and that's something that the airline must decide where they want to go. They will have to do the feasibilities obviously. But it does give them the opportunity.
RICE: There's a hope there that you'll be able to tap into the new middle class market that's developing in both China and India I guess?
SEETO: Absolutely. I mean that middle class now, the outbound market out of China certainly in the last couple of years is over 70 million I understand and if we just only had a fraction of that and a fraction of the outbound market of India, especially with as you currently say the increasing middle class with wealth and when you supplement that with our existing markets of Australia and New Zealand and North America, yeah, I think Fiji tourism is, is in for major growth.
RICE: So you're optimistic about the future for Fiji's hotels and tourism?
SEETO: Well, there's synergy between aviation and the hotel industry definitely, because these are two main components that make up a good holiday.
RICE: Are you seeing much interest from Asia at the moment?
SEETO: Yes, we are starting to get more business from Asia, in particular from China. I think this is a developing market that needs a lot more work. But like any other emerging market, you just need to work at it, you nurture it, and it'll grow. And given the trend, certainly looking at Australia and New Zealand, China in particular has become a major, major just arrival market and we're not that far away. So we are quite confident that we will get our fair share.
RICE: I think there's a few other island destinations that are also interested in China, like Guam, is a sort of putting feelers out. So you've got a bit of competition there. Is there any, any plans for Fiji tourism do you know to launch a campaign into China and India?
SEETO: Well, in fact, we have regular campaigns. There's one in China that's been planned. I was talking to Mr. Rick Hamilton, our new Tourism Fiji CEO. Yeah, there is a campaign in Hong Kong as well using the arrival of the aircraft before it comes into Fiji. We have a promotion there, but there's also a promotion into China, into some of the major cities certainly in southern China to promote Fiji a lot more and they're going to be dove tailing all these activities around the arrival of the A330.