Welcome Ceremony for Fiji Airway's New Airbus A330
December 29, 2015 Nadi International Airport.
The Prime Minister, Honourable Rear-Admiral (Ret’d) Ratu Voreqe Bainimarama and your good wife Mary;
Honourable Ministers of Government;
The Speaker of Parliament Honourable Dr. Jiko Luveni;
Your Excellencies, The Ambassadors and High Commissioners;
Members of the Fiji Tourism Industry;
Na Momo Na Taukei Naua and the People of Saunaka, Traditional owners of The Land upon which our International Airport is located;
The Chairman and Members of the Fiji Airways Board;
Mr. Andre Viljoen, Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer and Staff of Fiji Airways;
Ladies and Gentlemen.
Mu Sa Cola Vina, Salam Alaykum, Namaste, Noa’ia e Mauri, Seasons Greetings to you all.
It took me 10 hours to get here directly from the bustling City of Hong Kong – but it was 10 hours spent in absolute comfort onboard Fiji’s newest Flying Billboard.
This brand new Airbus A-Three-Thirty-Three-Hundred (A330-300) series is our biggest Airbus yet. It Has 289 seats in Economy Class, 40 more compared to the Two-Hundred Series we have. It has 24 Business Class seats.
There are many exciting improvements and upgrades in this new aircraft, in addition to our existing on-board features like lie-flat beds in business class, personal in-flight entertainment screens, and complimentary meals, drinks and more space for your baggage. It will have more freight capacity, A more attractive and comfortable interior with mood lighting, and a Quiet Zone in Economy Class.
This Aircraft will bring real economic opportunities for our people, because almost sixty-five percent of all visitors who travel to Fiji travel on Fiji Airways. And the more seats we have, and the better our service and overall flight experience, the more we will be able to attract more travelers. We are competing in the premier division of air travel, and we want to win.
Tourism is Fiji’s highest foreign exchange earner, and we are proud to be one of the world’s most sought after destinations. And we have a World-Class Airline to bring more people here to our beloved country.
The overall tourist experience we offer must begin the moment a person checks in at a Fiji Airways Counter and intensify as he or she steps aboard a Fiji Airways Airliner. And that experience must be characterized by comfort, modernity, hospitality, and complete peace of mind.
We are selling an experience, an experience people should want to repeat over and over, an experience they will want their friends and family to know and share. So our national airline isn’t just a vehicle that gets them to that experience; it is an integral part of it.
Having said this, I wish to acknowledge the presence here today of members of the Tourism Industry. I can almost see the joy in you with this additional Aircraft. This automatically translates to an increase in the number of passengers and an increase in hotel occupancy. It also means sustainability in the tourism industry, more profits, more employment opportunities and happier Fijians. Thank you for playing your part in this equation.
Ladies and gentlemen, this aircraft is more than just another addition to the fleet of our national airline. It is a symbol of a modern, progressive nation, which remains proud of its roots, culture and identity, while moving with the times to embrace the opportunities of the future.
Behind this aircraft’s modern airframe, Its Mechanics and Software Systems, lies a spirit that is quintessentially Fijian. This Extends Well Beyond The Wonderful Masi Artwork adorned all over our Aircraft. It goes directly through to the people of Fiji Airways who represent Fijian values, aspirations and hospitality.
It will be an extension of Fiji in the skies, with a genuine ‘Welcome to Our Home’ feel when you step onboard this Aircraft.
As Fiji Airways prepares to mark 65 years of existence in 2016, it is appropriate to reflect on just how far Fiji Airway has come.
Fiji Airways is a profitable national airline, one of very few in the world. It has greatly expanded its network and footprint, and it is forging ahead towards a bright future.
This New Aircraft, and the new routes our airline will travel in 2016, are a result of the partnership between Government, the board and the hard working team of Fiji Airways.
It is only appropriate that I mention the efforts of former Chairman Nalin Patel and former CEO and Director Stefan Pichler at this time. Their leadership was critical to setting Fiji Airways on the journey that has brought it to what it is today.
That journey, of course, is not over, because the ambitions of Fiji Airways match the ambitions of the Fijian people. Neither we nor the institutions that represent us—and that most definitely includes Fiji Airways—will accept anything less than first-class status. So we expect more great things from Fiji Airways in the future—more routes, the best planes, and ever-improving service. Vinaka Vakalevu, Dhanyavaad – Nalin and Stefan. You have set a high standard.
As we thank them for their service, we welcome the new leadership of Chairman Rajesh Punja and Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer, Andre Viljoen. All stakeholders, including the Fijian people, are looking forward to Fiji Airways reaching even greater heights with you at the helm.
Fellow Fijians, for this belated Christmas gift, we must thank the dedicated team of Staff Members, Engineers, Pilots and Cabin Crew who helped bring the plane home safely.
I also thank Airbus, the manufacturers, for delivering this Aircraft on time, despite the security challenges that France faces at the moment. I also extend the sympathies of the Fijian people to the People of France at this very time, Ambassador.
Ladies and gentlemen, it gives me great pleasure to officially announce the name given to this particular Aircraft.
Like many other Fijians, Fijians of Rotuman descent throughout the generations have contributed and continue to contribute proudly to our beloved nation. They are doctors, lawyers, teachers, professors, sports stars, engineers and a part of every facet of our Fijian society.
By christening this Airbus after their island, we are honouring their contribution to our country. we are showing our commitment to the development of the island, just as we are doing to every part of our beloved country Fiji. I am sure that all Fijians of Rotuman descent will join the rest of the country in sharing their pride every time they see this aircraft.
Ladies and gentlemen, I thank you for your attention, I Wish you all a prosperous New Year, and it is an honour to officially present to you - The Island Of Rotuma - Airbus A-Three-Thirty Three Hundred Series.
As you can see, ladies and gentlemen, this aircraft is more than ‘Just another plane for another airline customer’. It is a proud symbol of a country punching well above its weight regionally and internationally.
Please allow me to end by conveying on behalf of all Fijians of Rotuman descent our collective sincere appreciation to the Honourable Prime Minister and your Government and to Fiji Airways for dedicating Fiji’s Latest National Asset to Rotuma.
May God Bless The Island of Rotuma and May God Bless Fiji and all Fijians.
Vina’ Du Riki, Sukria, Bahoot Dhanyavaad, Faieksia e Garue and Thank You.