Island Paradise: The Fiji Airways Fleet In 2021

With 19 aircraft, the Fiji Airways fleet is small and fitting for the tiny island nation in the South Pacific. With planes needed for both high-capacity long-haul and frequent, low-capacity island-hopping operations, let’s examine Fiji Airways in our latest installment of fleet analysis in 2021.

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The largest aircraft flying for the airline is the Airbus A350-900. Photo: Airbus

The Fiji Airways fleet at a glance

First, we’ll take a look at the composition of the airline’s fleet as a whole. The aircraft types are listed below with quantities in parentheses:

  • Boeing 737-800 (2)
  • Boeing 737 MAX 8 (5)
  • Airbus A330-200 (3)
  • Airbus A330-300 (1)
  • Airbus A350-900 (2)

While technically a separate airline, Fiji Airways, of course, works very closely with its regional subsidiary Fiji Link. With a focus on island-hopping, this wing of Fiji Airways has the following planes:

  • ATR42 (1)
  • ATR 72 (2)
  • DHC-6-400 Twin Otter (4)

World Airline News notes that the Twin Otter is the aircraft of choice for Fiji Link’s domestic operations into smaller airports with short airstrips, where airport and runway infrastructure is limited. The DHC-6-400 Twin Otter has the ability to land on a wide range of runway surfaces due to its size, weight, and take-off and landing requirements. This relatively young sub fleet is between three and four years old.

New(ish)

On July 6th, 2021, Fiji Airways took delivery of the last of five Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft, which it had on order. Despite deliveries taking place as recently as three months ago, the average fleet age for this sub fleet is already 2.2 years.

If it wasn’t already obvious why, it’s because of the worldwide Boeing 737 MAX grounding, which began in March 2019. This prompted Boeing to pause deliveries of the type.

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Photo: Ev Brown via Flickr 

As covered in a previous article, Fiji Airways went into the 737 MAX grounding with just two aircraft. These are nearly three years old at the time of this article’s publication. These were sent to Alice Springs for storage, where they still remain today. Late in 2020, the aircraft was recertified by the FAA and gradually more authorities around the world, allowing for Boeing to resume deliveries of the type.

A shrunken A330 fleet

Interestingly, the addition of two Airbus A330-200s to the fleet was somewhat linked to the 737 MAX crisis. Two 15-year-old A330-200s, named “Island of Beqa” (registered DQ-FJO), and “Island of Vatulele” (registered DQ-FJP), were first acquired to boost capacity in the short term and allow for an increase in frequency, as well as the launch of new routes (such as to Tokyo).

The airline’s CEO had also noted that the aircraft played a crucial role in mitigating schedule disruptions caused by the 737 MAX crisis and the global grounding of the type.

Data from Planespotters.net revealed that the pair were leased out from Abu Dhabi-based carrier Etihad Airways. With the lease agreement ended early, the aircraft were returned, exiting the fleet over the summer.

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With an average age of nearly 8 years, Fiji Airways’ fleet of Airbus A330s have been the airline’s medium and long-range workhorses. Photo: Laurent Errera via Wikimedia Commons 

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The flagship jets

At just two years of age, Fiji Airways’ pair of Airbus A350-900s are truly the airline’s newest type and youngest average sub fleet. The airline’s flagship aircraft, Fiji Airways took delivery of its first A350-900 back in November 2019.

The airline was the first in the South Pacific to operate the A350 XWB, ordering them with the intent of flying them to destinations like Sydney and Los Angeles. FlightRadar24.com data shows that the type makes the occasional flight between Nadi and Auckland as well.

Both A350s are configured in a two-class layout with a total of 334 seats. These are split between 33 fully lie-flat business class seats and 301 economy class seats. Of the economy seats, 39 offer extra legroom.

Have you flown with Fiji Airways? Let us know by leaving a comment.

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