Fiji’s national airline, Fiji Airways, has chosen the Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft to replace its existing narrow-body fleet.
The airline currently operates five Boeing 737s (one 700 series/ four 800 series) on its short- and medium-haul network to destinations including Australia, New Zealand, Hawaii, Kiribati, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga and Vanuatu. The first two of the five brand new B737 MAX 8 aircraft will arrive in 2018, and the remaining three will arrive in 2019.
Fiji Airways Managing Director and Chief Executive, Andre Viljoen, said the selection followed the conclusion of an “extremely exhaustive procurement and selection process. The improved operating economics and product enhancements were compelling reasons to consider renewing the current Boeing 737 aircraft.”
Viljoen added: “This is a major capital decision that had to be done correctly so we followed a rigorous, thorough and transparent process to find the right solution. As a consequence of the fierce competition between the rival bidders and the extensive process followed by Fiji Airways, we have achieved a ground-breaking package deal that represents excellent value for our shareholders, customers and stakeholders.”
Viljoen stated that the package deal secured with Boeing, leasing company GE Capital Aviation Services (GECAS) and engine manufacturers CFM International included a 12-year sale and leaseback financing arrangement.
“We are satisfied that the B737 MAX 8 aircraft meets our requirements for efficient performance, more engine power, greater economics and a product that will assist us to achieve 4-Star Airline SKYTRAX Rating. Our team will now work on the cabin designs and fit-outs to Fiji Airways specifications. With 170 seats, we will continue with our existing two-class configuration (Business and Economy) and be able to offer an extremely competitive short and medium haul product.”
Fiji’s Attorney General and Minister for Civil Aviation, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum, said the addition of the new aircraft from 2018 would continue the modernisation of the Fiji Airways fleet that began three years ago with the delivery of the first wide-bodied A330-200.
“Now that we are adding new and very efficient Boeing 737 MAX 8s, Fiji Airways will have one of the youngest fleets in the Asia Pacific. Which means not only lower operating costs and a smaller carbon footprint but a level of comfort and service for the travelling public that represents yet another leap forward for our national airline”.
He said the relationship with Boeing would also mean that Fiji Airways would be able to set up a flight simulator school and related aircraft training and specialisation in Fiji.
“This will not only save us considerable expense in the training of our pilots but establish Fiji as a regional aviation training hub”, he said.
Since 2013, Fiji Airways has upgraded its fleet with three new, modern A330-200s and one A330-300 aircraft.
Edited by Peter Needham