The Fiji Times, 16 August 2023 – The people of Beqa celebrated alongside Fiji Airways staff and guests yesterday as the airline welcomed its brand new Airbus A350 extra wide body (XWB) aircraft yesterday.
Christened “Island of Beqa”, the aircraft is the national carrier’s most sophisticated aircraft boasting a host of advanced technology that will boost the airline’s reach across the globe.
Flown by Captain Etika Tuisue and Captain Clayton Cornish, the A350 XWB’s Airspace by Airbus is expected to service popular routes between Fiji, the United States and Australia. It has a capacity of 334 passengers.
Prime Minister Sitiveni Rabuka said the day marked a critical step in the most ambitious expansion in the history of Fiji Airways.
“The Island of Beqa is integrated into that and so is another A350 scheduled to arrive next week,” he said.
“They join the new Fiji Airways flight path to lift performance and fulfilling our airline’s strategic goal.
“It seeks a bigger fleet, it seeks more routes to market our tourism and trade.”
He said the airline was looking at substantially increasing passenger and cargo capacity.
“They’re looking at wider and larger involvement in Oceania, which has new importance in the world today.”
The PM said in the eight months that the Coalition Government has been in power, Deputy PM and Tourism Minister Viliame Gavoka had done a lot of work to ensure the tourism and aviation industry not only survived but expanded further.
Fiji Airways managing director and CEO Andre Viljoen said the new A350 was the third addition to their fleet of A350s with the fourth expected to arrive in nine days.
“It will provide an additional 60 seats in every flight we undertake. That will add 30,000 more seats per month,” he said.
“Not only that, this Airbus A350 carries 20 tonnes more cargo than the previous generation aircraft. This will assist the country’s exports and also trade prospects.”