SIXTY- eight years ago, one September 1st, Fiji’s first commercial flight took off from Nausori Airport destined for Drasa Airport just outside Lautoka on a 7-seater plane.
This flight was the birth of what is today, Fiji’s international Airliner which operates 400 flights a week to almost 15 cities in 10 countries around the world. Our national airline has become a source of national pride for many Fijians. Its uniqueness and the manner in which the flight crew welcome their guests have been told over and over again by many weary travellers – foreigners or Fijian.
Taking on various challenges that no airline in the global airline industry is immune from, Fiji Airways has passed various tests with flying colours, more than ably fulfilling its dual roles of flying Fiji and contributing significantly to its economy.
1947 – Australian navigator Harold Gatty who in 1931 had been the navigator on a record breaking round-the-world flight, moved to Fiji after World War II. Gatty registered the airline as Katafaga Estate Ltd – after the coconut estate he established on Fiji’s eastern island group.
1958 – After Gatty’s death, Fiji Airways was acquired by Qantas. Sept 1951 – Gattty renamed the airline as Fiji Airways. The New Zealander Fred Ladd was the company’s first chief pilot.
1974 – Tourism became the nation’s leading industry which made the airline even more important to the Fijian economy. The government of Fiji acquired a controlling interest in Air Pacific in 1974.
1970 – After independence from Great Britain the new national government began buying shares and the airline was renamed Air Pacific to reflect its regional presence.
1st June 1973 – Fiji Airways had its first international flight to Brisbane, Australia.
1966 – Fiji Airways shareholders included governments of Tonga, Western Samoa, Nauru, Kiribati and the Solomon Islands.
In March 2013 – the company received its first Airbus A330 – The Island of Taveuni . Today there are three Airbus A330-200s, one Airbus A330-300, four Boeing 737-800s and one Boeing 737-700. Fiji Link operates with two ATR 72-600, an ATR 42-600 and three de Havilland Canada DHC-6 Twin Otter aircraft. 1983 – Fiji Airways started flights to the USA with a route to Honolulu called ‘Project America’
In May 2012, the airline reintroduced Fiji Airways name to reinforce its role as the proud national airline of Fiji. Oct 2012 new masi rebranding revealed on brand new Airbus A330-200 July 2010 – Fiji Airways announced a new Suva-Auckland service. Dec 2009 – Fiji Airways commenced a twice weekly service to Hong Kong which was increased to three services in January 2014.
Since 2014, through the support of the Fijian Government Fiji Airways has stamped its mark in the Air Industry through various new aircrafts and improvements in it’s services.
Today, 23rd November 2019, Fiji VAirways Island of VitiLevu, a Airbus 350 XWB 900 touched down at International Airport in Nadi with Pacific’s first of its kind Xtra Wide Body aircraft.
Fiji Airways now waits for the delivery of second A350, due by the end of this year.