Fiji Airways and Airport Fiji address consumer concerns over flight disruptions from Nausori
Airports Fiji Limited and Fiji Airways yesterday responded to concerns raised by some consumers over the flight disruptions/ cancellations at the Nausori International Airport. Flights had to be redirected from Nausori Airport since Sunday because after the sealing works carried out by AFL contractors , the airport was unsuitable for Fiji Airways Boeing 737 aircraft operations. Consumer Council of Fiji chief executive, Premila Kumar, said there should have been ‘better coordination’ between Fiji Airways and Airports Fiji Limited. She said they had received complaints from consumers in the way passengers on international flights from Nausori were managed by the airline and AFL staff members. AFL in responding to the statement said: “We need to understand that flight cancellation due to works at Nausori International Airport was an unforeseen. “AFL brought in a specialist Australian contractor who had worked for a number of nights to seal cracks at Nausori. “Flights would then resume in the day. However, on Sunday, the sealant they applied could not cure in the day resulting in flight cancellations due to precautionary reasons as we cannot compromise on safety. “Since then the contractor Supersealing carried out remedial works and as of Tuesday gave the all clear for runway usage. “Understandably the airlines are carrying out their own independent assessment before resuming B737 flight operations, whilst ATR operations resumed last Monday.” AFL said the reason for the crack sealing works was to give a longer life to the current Nausori runway to service airlines and passengers. This is whilst AFL works on the more permanent runway expansion over the next three years. “These crack sealing works will ensure better serviceability of Nausori over the next two years. The mishap by the contractor is an unforeseen and we are most apologetic to our passengers,” AFL said.
Fiji Airways response
Meanwhile, Fiji Airways says they sympathise with their customers affected by the runway closure. “The unsuitability of the runway surface is simply beyond the airline’s control, and we’d refer queries regarding this to Airports Fiji Limited,” it said.
“The first cancellation last Sunday was done at the last minute in the interest of safety. Non-availability of buses and restaurants to supply food on Sunday further contribute to delays faced by customers. “Fiji Airways and Fiji Link try to accommodate as many varying needs and requests as possible. “We do understand, however, the inconvenience facing customers in unavoidable situations like these. “Our focus is on getting our customers to their destinations. While it isn’t ideal to transfer customers from Suva to Nadi by road, at times it is the only option available. “Where seats are available on our Twin Otter and ATR aircraft, we are able to fly them to Nadi to catch a connecting international flight.”
Loss of money concerns
The Consumer Council indicated they received complaints about some passengers suffering financial loss as they could not take their duty-free purchases already made at Nausori Airport to Nadi. AFL said they have seen the complaints lodged with the council but there are a number of agencies involved in duty free goods clearance. These include Customs, airport security, airlines, duty free operators, specific destination country security regulations, under the overall guidance of the regulator CAAF that are set up based on ICAO safety regulations.
“In a one-off unforeseen occurrence, it is difficult to change the safety regulations and systems with multi agencies involved,” AFL said. “We have nevertheless taken the Consumer Councils concerns on board and will work with all agencies. “We invite passengers who have been affected in not being able to take their duty free goods abroad to contact AFL with their specific details. “We will work with the relevant agencies to find solutions. We once again apologise for any inconvenience caused out of this unforeseen.”