"Air Pacific Is A Stagnating Airline" -- Fiji Govt
Air Pacific Operations Review
Government owns major shares in Air Pacific which makes the airline's commercial viability very much its concern, said Finance Minister, Mahendra Chaudhry.
He was responding to a front page report in The Fiji Times on Saturday quoting the Association of South Pacific Airlines telling government to stay out of Air Pacific's affairs.
"Air Pacific is a stagnating airline. Its profit is declining, it is not expanding, no new major international destinations have been added to its flight network in the past two decades. It is also beset by serious employee relations' problems."
"It is ridiculous for anyone to say that as the major shareholder the Fiji Government should sit back and not take timely action to set things right to avert," Mr Chaudhry said.
Government's concern, as outlined in its media statement, stems from months of complaints lodged by Air Pacific employees, concerned members of the tourism industry as well as the traveling public.
The national airline's deteriorating standards is a worry to the tourism sector. Chronic mechanical problems associated with its ageing fleet of aircraft, is causing delays in the airline's on time performance, sapping confidence in its reliability and efficiency.
"As Fiji's flagship carrier, it is expected to contribute to a vibrant tourism industry by exploring expansion into new markets and destinations. But we have not seen the national airline embark on any new initiatives in the past two decades.
"Air Pacific Board and senior management have to take full responsibility for the poor state of the airline today."
It is widely believed that Air Pacific's current state of inertia is the result of dominance by minority shareholder Qantas Airways.
"This is why we need to review the shareholding agreement with Qantas Airways to ensure that Fiji's national interest is not compromised by this partnership," Mr Chaudhry said.