The aircraft, a -900 series (DQ-FAM), christened ‘Island of Beqa’ was welcomed at the airline’s Nadi Airport (NAN) hub on Tuesday, August 15, with a traditional water cannon salute. Fijian Prime Minister Sitiveni Rabuka was also in attendance, along with various dignitaries.
Pride of the Fleet
At the event, Andre Viljoen, Fiji Airways CEO, said that the A350 “has fast become the pride of our airline and the joy of our passengers.” Two other aircraft joined the fleet in November and December 2019; a fourth is due later this year. They are configured with 334 seats in a two-class layout, 33 in business and 301 in economy.
The state-of-the-art aircraft will be pivotal in the airline’s expansion plans. “Fiji Airways brings in 70 per cent of all visitors to Fiji. We are crucial to the long-term sustainable growth of the tourism industry, which is 45 per cent of our Gross Domestic Product and the largest employer in the country,” Viljoen explained.
“As the National Airline we recognize our role is not just to be the bridge to and from the world but to support the growth of tourism, one of the ways we can do this is by introducing new destinations with potential for high tourism opportunities.”
Indeed, the airline is now looking at new destinations which the A350 could open up that are beyond FJ’s current network, “for example, the A350 XWBs are capable of flying much deeper into the United States or Canada.”
Some North American destinations that are being studied include Dallas and Seattle. Meanwhile, the carrier is also looking at Seoul, South Korea, plus Shanghai and Beijing in China. These would complement the carrier’s current service to Hong Kong.
For now, FJ will use the new addition to add capacity on its primary markets of Australia and New Zealand, as well as flights to Hong Kong, San Francisco and Vancouver.
As well as the Airbus A350s, Fiji Airways’ fleet currently consists of four Airbus A330s, five Boeing 737-8s and a single 737-800.
Featured Image: The latest addition was welcomed by a traditional water cannon salute. Photo: Fiji Airways.