History of Fiji Airways
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.