His­tory of Fiji Air­ways

mailife - - Contents - By MELA TUILEVUKA

SIXTY- five years ago, one Septem­ber 1st, Fiji’s first com­mer­cial flight took off from Nau­sori Air­port des­tined for Drasa Air­port just out­side Lautoka on a 7-seater plane. This flight was the birth of what is to­day, Fiji’s in­ter­na­tional Air­liner which op­er­ates 400 flights a week to al­most 15 ci­ties in 10 coun­tries around the world. Our na­tional air­line has be­come a source of na­tional pride for many Fi­jians. Its unique­ness and the man­ner in which the flight crew wel­come their guests have been told over and over again by many weary trav­ellers - for­eign­ers or Fi­jian. In the words of a weary Fi­jian trav­eller who was trav­el­ling back home after 7-years, “When I en­tered the plane, the smil­ing faces, the mu­sic, the at­mos­phere and the whole look of the plane tells me I am al­ready home – the bula smiles and the greet­ing it­self made me burst into tears... I am home!

1947 – Aus­tralian nav­i­ga­tor Harold Gatty who in 1931 had been the nav­i­ga­tor on a record break­ing round-the-world flight, moved to Fiji after World War II. Gatty reg­is­tered the air­line as Katafaga Es­tate Ltd – after the co­conut es­tate he es­tab­lished on Fiji’s eastern is­land group.

1958 – After Gatty’s death, Fiji Air­ways was ac­quired by Qan­tas. Sept 1951 – Gattty re­named the air­line as Fiji Air­ways. The New Zealan­der Fred Ladd was the com­pany’s first chief pi­lot. 1974 – Tourism be­came the na­tion’s lead­ing in­dus­try which made the air­line even more im­por­tant to the Fi­jian econ­omy. The govern­ment of Fiji ac­quired a con­trol­ling in­ter­est in Air Pa­cific in 1974. 1970 – After in­de­pen­dence from Great Bri­tain the new na­tional govern­ment be­gan buy­ing shares and the air­line was re­named Air Pa­cific to re­flect its re­gional pres­ence. 1st June 1973 – Fiji Air­ways had its first in­ter­na­tional flight to Bris­bane, Aus­tralia. 1966 – Fiji Air­ways share­hold­ers in­cluded govern­ments of Tonga, Western Samoa, Nauru, Kiri­bati and the Solomon Is­lands. In March 2013 - the com­pany re­ceived its first Air­bus A330 - The Is­land of Tave­uni . To­day there are three Air­bus A330-200s, one Air­bus A330-300, four Boe­ing 737-800s and one Boe­ing 737700. Fiji Link op­er­ates with two ATR 72-600, an ATR 42-600 and three de Hav­il­land Canada DHC-6 Twin Ot­ter air­craft. 1983 – Fiji Air­ways started flights to the USA with a route to Honolulu called ‘Project Amer­ica’

In May 2012, the air­line rein­tro­duced Fiji Air­ways name to re­in­force its role as the proud na­tional air­line of Fiji. Oct 2012 new masi re­brand­ing re­vealed on brand new Air­bus A330-200 July 2010 – Fiji Air­ways an­nounced a new Suva-Auck­land ser­vice. Dec 2009 – Fiji Air­ways com­menced a twice weekly ser­vice to Hong Kong which was in­creased to three ser­vices in Jan­u­ary 2014.

1921 – Fiji wit­nessed its first-ever civil avi­a­tion flight. This was seven­teen years after the world’s first pro­pelled air­craft made its his­toric air­borne trip.

1928 – The fa­mous land­ing in Suva of Sir Charles Kingsford-Smith fol­low­ing his trans-Pa­cific flight. This was the be­gin­ning of our jour­ney into the field of in­ter­na­tional avi­a­tion.

March 20th 1930 – the first reg­u­lar do­mes­tic air ser­vice was started by Cap­tain Ce­cil Gor­don Fen­ton. March 21st 1933 – the first Fiji Air­ways was formed tak­ing over from Cap­tain Fen­ton’s air­craft. Two sea­planes left Suva at 6:30am for the first sched­uled flight to Labasa via Le­vuka, Mako­gai and Nabouwalu, com­menc­ing along the coast of Vanua Levu re­turn­ing to Suva after mid­day. Four pas­sen­gers booked flights they were: Suva-Le­vuka : Mrs Proc­ter Suva-Labasa : Mrs R.A.Cromp­ton & Miss Mc Ka­vanagh Le­vuka-Labasa : Mr H.B.Gib­son 1934 – The com­pany ceased op­er­a­tions due to fi­nan­cial dif­fi­cul­ties.

To­day the air­line and its do­mes­tic and re­gional sub­sidiary Fiji Link op­er­ate 400 flights a week to al­most 15 ci­ties in 10 coun­tries around the world.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Fiji

© PressReader. All rights reserved.