Air Pacific returns to profit

Air Pacific posted profits of US$9.1m in 2011-12
Air Pacific posted profits of US$9.1m in 2011-12

Fiji’s national carrier Air Pacific has posted its first operating profit in three years.

For the fiscal year ending 31 March 2012 the Nadi-based airline reported a profit of FJ$16.5 million (US$9.1m), compared to a FJ$3.7m loss in 2010-11 and a record FJ$91.8m deficit two years ago. The result was achieved following a 16.3% rise in revenues, which totalled FJ$645.9m.

Nalin Patel, Chairman of Air Pacific’s Board of Directors, attributed the performance to the airline’s turnaround plan.

“The fact that we managed to return the airline to an operating profit only two years after we experienced the biggest loss in our history speaks volumes about the experience and capability of our new management team and the soundness of their turnaround plan,” Patel said.

As part of its turnaround plan Air Pacific will be renamed ‘Fiji Airways’ next year, coinciding with the delivery of its new Airbus A330-200 aircraft.

Air Pacific is also looking to wrestle control of the airline away from Qantas, which owns a 46% stake in the Fijian airline. In March this year, the Fijian government decreed that Air Pacific should be “effectively controlled” by the Fijian government, a Fijian citizen or a corporation which is at least 51% owned by Fijians. The Qantas stake was seen as vital due to the lack of domestic investment in Air Pacific, but Fiji is now looking to take greater control of its national carrier, investing in new aircraft, cabin products and lounges.

Dave Pflieger, Air Pacific’s Managing Director & CEO, attributed the improvement to all members of the airline’s staff.

“Over the last two years, the Air Pacific team has not only designed, but delivered on a turnaround plan focused on returning it to profitability for shareholders, staff, and the Fijian people. To report a profit in a year that witnessed significant fuel cost increases, strong and continued competition in a key market from two low cost carriers, and two major flooding crises, is a rousing testament to the hard work, dedication and effectiveness of the men and women who proudly represent Fiji’s national airline.”
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