Passenger traffic might be almost non-existent between Fiji and Australia this month, but four airlines will jet between the two countries by Christmas, seeing the country pair quickly go from zero to hero.
Borders open and airlines warm their engines
Qantas, Jetstar, Virgin Australia, and Fiji Airways will all resume flying between the two countries in mid-December after Fiji said it would open to fully vaccinated travelers from Australia and Australia readies to allow its vaccinated citizens to come and go from mid-November.
In calendar 2019, before COVID-19 struck, the combined airlines offered 5,868 nonstop flights between the two countries, with 896,465 passengers traveling in either direction. Fiji Airways made tidy work of those passengers, flying 503,974 (56%) of them. Mopping up the remains were Virgin Australia with 274,826 (31%) passengers, Jetstar with 74,075 (8%) passengers, and Qantas trailing the pack with 42,320 (5%) passengers.
Tourism is Fiji’s most significant industry, usually accounting for 38.9% of the country’s GDP. Australia is Fiji’s biggest tourist market by a country mile, and the battered Fijian tourism and airline industry is welcoming the flights resuming with open arms.
Stay informed: Sign up for our daily and weekly aviation news digests.
Fiji Airways is first out of the blocks
First out of the blocks is Fiji Airways which is set to go double daily to and from Sydney from December 1. One of those daily flights, the morning flight to Sydney and the early afternoon flight from Sydney, will be operated by Fiji Airways’ rather nice A350-900. A Boeing 737-800 will work the other daily service.
“After almost two years of no tourism, we cannot wait to welcome back international travelers from 1st December,” says Fiji Airways Chief Executive Officer Andre Viljoen.
Also in the timetables are daily Fiji Airways Boeing 737-800 to and from Melbourne and Brisbane from December 1 – although Queensland’s State Government may need to get with the program before flights to Brisbane resume.
Virgin Australia, Jetstar, & Qantas all make a December return to Fiji
On December 16, Virgin Australia will make a welcome return to international flying and resume flights between Australia and Fiji. VirginAustralia will offer up to fourteen return flights a week between Sydney and Nadi, up to seven return flights a week between Melbourne and Nadi, and up to three return flights a week between Brisbane and Nadi.
All Virgin Australia flights now utilize Boeing 737-800 aircraft. Calling the inaugural short-haul international service for the relaunched airline “a significant milestone,” a Virgin Australia spokesperson said bookings to Fiji were strong. The airline confirms flights to and from Sydney will be double daily by December 23. Melbourne will also see daily flights by then.
Pipped by one day, Jetstar will head back to Fiji on December 17. The low-cost airline will offer daily return A320-200 flights from Sydney from December 17, offering 3,200 seats per week on the route.
JQ119 will leave Sydney at 09:00 every morning and land in Nadi four hours and ten minutes later at 15:10. The flight back to Sydney will leave Nadi at 15:55 and touch down in Sydney at 18:45.
“In a recent survey conducted by Jetstar, Fiji rated as one of the top international beach holiday destinations that people want to visit once borders open, particularly for families and young people,” said Jetstar’s Gareth Evans.
“Returning to the South Pacific is an exciting milestone in our international restart plans as we gradually rebuild our network over the next six months.”
Not quite hassle free flying, but on the way
Qantas is the final airline to resume flying to Fiji. It will offer four flights a week from December 19, all operated by a Boeing 737-800. QF101 will depart Sydney at 08:35 on Tuesdays, Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays from that date. The flight will arrive in Nadi at 14:45.
The return flight, QF102, operates on the same day. Doors are closed in Nadi for a 15:35 departure and an 18:15 touchdown in Sydney.
These flights are a great start towards reviving the normally busy skies between Australia and Fiji. But it’s not quite all beer and skittles. Only fully vaccinated travelers will be allowed to fly (exceptions made for children). Entry into Fiji is subject to sticking around your resort for 48 hours and returning a negative COVID-19 test.
On Friday, the New South Wales Government announced that fully vaccinated travelers landing in Sydney (Australians or otherwise, would not need to participate in any form of quarantine from November 1. There’s still room for improvement to streamline the travel experience, but this is a good start.