Tuvalu News

PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT

Pacific Islands Development Program/East-West Center
Center for Pacific Islands Studies/University of Hawai‘i at Manoa

AIR FIJI SECURES FIVE-YEAR RIGHTS TO FLY TO TUVALU

SUVA, Fiji Islands (July 23, 1999 – PACNEWS)---Air Fiji, one of the two domestic carriers in Fiji, has secured exclusive rights to serve Tuvalu for the next five years.

Air Fiji Chief Executive Ken McDonald said in a statement that the new regional service, the first for the airline in the Pacific region beyond Fiji, will be called "Pacific Link."

"The twice-weekly flights will provide Tuvalu with essential air links to the outside world, especially vital after Air Marshall Islands ceased its flights to Tuvalu in April," McDonald said.

Air Fiji has acquired a 30-seater EMB 120 Brasilia for use on the new route. The airline will take delivery of the aircraft August 9. 

"The $FJ 7 million (US$ 3.5 million) aircraft is fully pressurized and can fly at up to 30,000 feet (9,144 meters), three times higher than the current Air Fiji fleet, and high enough to avoid stormy weather," the Air Fiji statement said.

John Townsend, the economic infrastructure advisor at the South Pacific Forum Secretariat in Suva, said acquisition of an EMB 120 is a logical next step for Air Fiji.

"Its Embraer fleet experience and the stepup in capacity and services will be a useful adjunct in its operations," he said.

According to McDonald, at least 10 EMB 120 Brasilia airplanes operate in Australia’s Northern Territory and Papua New Guinea. "So the aircraft has been successfully tested in tropical environments."

He said Air Fiji began services to Tuvalu in April using a Bandeirante plane, which will remain available to fly additional flights or back-up services to Tuvalu.

"Air Fiji will explore other feeder opportunities with Pacific Island countries which are interested in utilizing our services, whether on a code-share basis or as a Pacific Link flight," McDonald said.


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