[Avionics Today 08-18-2014] Fiji Airways recently reported a record $10 million underlying operating profit for the first half of 2014. While CEO Stefan Pichler is satisfied with these results, Pichler is still looking to improve operations. In the near future, those improvements will focus on fleet modernization introducing new fuel-efficient aircraft for long haul and domestic operations.
Fiji Airways aircraft shown flying. Photo: Fiji Airways
"Fiji Airways is going through a transitional period of innovative thinking from a technological standpoint and we recognize that this needs to be part of our daily processes. The continued improvements to our current aircraft hardware and the introduction of a more efficient Airbus products are the foundation," Pichler said in an interview with Avionics Magazine.
In 2013, Fiji introduced its first Airbus A330-200 as a replacement to the older Boeing 767s it was using on transcontinental flights. The A330 has had a "positive influence on not only fuel burn but also enhanced our environmental footprint," Pichler said.
By 2017, Fiji will increase its fleet size by 25 percent, with the purchase or lease of another new A330-200, two Boeing 737-800s and two ATR 72-600s according to its five-year strategic plan. This will coincide with Fiji's goal of growing its passenger numbers by 39 percent over the next five years.
The airline is the national carrier of Fiji, a nation that features over 1,000 miles of white sand beaches spread over 300 islands about 1,300 miles northeast of New Zealand. Although they do a lot of inter-island flying, current operations feature more than 400 flights per week to nearly 15 cities in 10 different countries worldwide. According to Pichler the strongest performing markets during the first half of the year included the United States. In terms of passenger numbers, Australia and the Asia Pacific region were strongest, Pichler said.
Outside of introducing more fuel-efficient aircraft, Pichler is also interested introducing Electronic Flight Bags and upgrading the Emergency Locator Transmitters (ELT) across the fleet. But despite the growing number of In-Flight Connectivity (IFC) options available on the market and the standard equipment facilitating satellite connectivity on the A330-200, Pichler is not interested in deploying connectivity any time soon.
"We don’t have any immediate plans to install Wi-Fi on our aircraft. We are happy to be a follower in this area and adapt proven practices at the right time," said Pichler. "We are always monitoring the vendor modifications available to our equipment and follow a very robust internal process to determine which modifications are embodied. Of course, for future enhancements we are always on the look out to leverage whatever maybe on offer providing it makes sense and adds value to the product life cycle. Of interest is the EFB and ETL options available in the market today and I would expect within one or two years that we embark on a feasibility study to see what the real value add is to our fleets."