Viking DHC-6 Series 400 Twin Otter. Photo: FIJI AIRWAYS.
By ANA SOVA
Fiji Airways, Fiji’s National Airline, yesterday announced plans to expand and upgrade Fiji Link’s Twin Otter fleet.
This allows increased frequencies to key domestic routes like Savusavu and Taveuni.
The airline will purchase three brand new latest model DHC-6 Series 400 Twin Otters from manufacturer Viking Air Ltd, to replace two of its existing three Series 300 aircraft.
This will increase the Twin Otter fleet to four aircraft.
Fiji Airways Group Managing Director and CEO, Andre Viljoen said the investment was in line with the overall modernisation of the entire Group fleet.
“With more aircraft, we can increase daily flights to key local destinations. Our capacity to Savusavu and Taveuni will grow by 30%, which will be welcome news to tourism operators in these regions,” Vilijoen said.
He said it was a reflection of their commitment to the Fijian tourism industry and Fiji Airways will work closely with its partners in the North to increase visitor arrivals and connectivity.
Arriving in October 2017 and early 2018, the three new Twin Otter aircraft will have air-conditioned cabins for increased customer comfort.
Their state of the art digital avionics systems and operating features will greatly enhance operational reliability and an easier transition for Fiji Link pilots to progress onto the ATR fleet.
The impending fleet expansion has already initiated the recruitment and training of additional local pilots, resulting in more employment opportunities for Fijians.
Mr. Viljoen added the fleet expansion will also allow Fiji Link to increase frequency on other domestic routes.
“Flights between Nadi and Suva will increase to seven a day. Our team is also considering converting one of our current Twin Otter aircraft into a multi-use vehicle to cater not only for additional scheduled flying, but to provide opportunities for new charter business, medical evacuation services and carriage of freight,” he said.
Fijian Attorney General, Minister for Economy and Minister responsible for Aviation, the Honourable Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum said this investment by Fiji Link to expand its domestic fleet and increase capacity will be welcome news for our Northern residents and tourism stakeholders alike.
“This will also mean increased choices for ordinary Fijians, and is in line with the modernisation programme and agenda of the Fijian Government, while growing the economy,” Mr. Sayed-Khaiyum said.
The ever-versatile Twin Otter remains the aircraft of choice for Fiji Link’s domestic operations into smaller airports with short airstrips, and where airport and runway infrastructure is limited. It has the ability to land on most runway surfaces given its size, weight, and take-off and landing requirements.
It has proven especially reliable in the Fijian domestic operating environment, with Fiji Link having over ten years of experience operating this aircraft type.
Fiji Link also has the option to purchase a fourth brand new Series 400 Twin Otter aircraft. A decision on exercising this option will be made in 2018.