Fiji Airways announced today that all international flights would remain suspended until the end of June. This decision comes as borders remain closed due to COVID-19. Fiji Airways also expects to reduce its scheduled services in July, noting that the resumption of flights would depend on easing border restrictions and the return of demand.
Fiji Airways ready to launch services as soon as it is practical
Mr. Andre Viljoen, Fiji Airways Managing Director, and CEO said in a statement on the Fiji Airways website,
“We totally understand measures placed by Governments to protect borders. While the near-term outlook remains bleak, we remain flexible and will be ready to launch services as soon as practical. The extension by a month is a difficult but necessary decision, given the uncertainty surrounding the June operating environment.”
He further added, “Airlines around the world are adjusting schedules accordingly. We will continue to assess the situation and may reduce capacity further if required. The outlook remains bleak, and we are preparing for the worst while hoping for the best.”
Fiji’s national airline first announced a suspension of flights in March, suspending 95% of its flights until 31st May. Only a twice-weekly service between Singapore and Nadi was allowed to continue.
Yet, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to cause a reduction in flight capacity, the airline has been forced to extend this until the end of June.
Fiji Airways said it would be contacting impacted guests regarding changes to their June bookings.
Staff forced to take unpaid leave.
With the reduction in flight capacity, it was announced that employees would be forced to take four weeks’ leave without pay between April and June. In addition to this, members of senior management took a 35% pay cut.
While the outlook may look bleak for now, the announcement of the trans-Tasman bubble could give some hope to the small Pacific airline. With the low number of coronavirus cases in Fiji (18 confirmed to date, reported by the Ministry of Health in Fiji ), could it be possible that flights to Australia and New Zealand will be allowed to operate in the next few months?
Evacuation and freight flights
Fiji Airways reported that it had been running evacuation and freight flights since the 23rd March. As of 12th April, the airline had evacuated 1157 visitors back to Australia, New Zealand, US, Singapore, Japan, and Samoa. The airline also reported that it had returned 561 Fijians home.
Mr. Andre Vijoen also said that many of the staff members had operated these flights knowing that upon their return, they would have to go into mandatory quarantine for 14 days.
Fiji Airways has also been transporting cargo. Between the 3rd and 12th of April, Fiji Airways had transported approximately 88 tons of exports from Fiji, including fresh produce, seafood, mail, and other items, in a bid to keep the supply chain operating and support the local people.
Have you been affected by the border restrictions? Let us know in the comments.