CAPTION: David Pflieger in his office. Photo: SHALENDRA PRASAD.
Feb. 8, 2013– Nadi, Fiji – Air Pacific Chairman Nalin Patel today announced that the airline’s Managing Director and CEO, David H. Pflieger, Jr., has notified the Board of Directors of his decision to leave the airline and return to the United States following the completion of his three year contract on May 1, 2013. Mr. Patel also announced that the Board would immediately begin the recruitment process for the airline’s next Managing Director & CEO.
“Given the exceptional results Dave has delivered, it is with immense gratitude for his extraordinary service that we have reluctantly accepted his decision to relinquish the helm of Air Pacific and return home. At a time when many of the world’s other airlines were struggling, Dave skillfully guided Air Pacific through one of the most remarkable turnarounds in the airline industry. Thanks to his incredible vision, drive, and leadership, Air Pacific is now again profitable and extremely well-positioned for future growth and success,” said Mr. Patel.
“I would like to say ’Vinaka Vakalevu’ or ‘thank you very much’ to our Board, to everyone at Air Pacific, and to the people of Fiji for an incredible three years. Fiji is an amazing country, and I am humbled by and grateful for the once-in-a lifetime experience that my family and I enjoyed and will never forget,” said Mr. Pflieger. “The tremendous accomplishments Air Pacific has realized over the past three years would not have been possible without the foresight of our Chairman, Mr. Patel, the outstanding support of our Board, and the efforts of some of the most talented and dedicated professionals working and flying in the airline industry today – the men and women of Air Pacific,” said Mr. Pflieger. “It has been an honour and a privilege to work with each and every one of them.”
During his three-year tenure at Air Pacific, Mr. Pflieger led the dramatic and highly successful restructuring, re-branding, and revitalization of Fiji’s national airline, highlighted by achievements that include:
• Restoring airline to profitability in just two years–reversing record operating losses of FJ$12 million and FJ$91 million in the two financial years before he arrived, to produce a FJ$16 million profit;
• Winning first-ever recognition from Conde Nast Traveler magazine as one of the World’s “Top 5” Small Airlines for two years in a row (2011 & 2012);
• Modernizing the fleet by leading the landmark acquisition and financing of the airline’s first brand-new wide-body aircraft, three A330s, scheduled for delivery in March, May, and November of 2013;
• Initiating and leading the complete re-branding, renaming, and restoration of the airline to its 1960s name of ‘Fiji Airways’;
• Entering into an extensive code-share agreement with American Airlines;
• Implementing the Company’s first-ever profit sharing and quarterly performance incentive plans for front-line employees; and
• Instituting a new and highly robust Corporate Social Responsibility initiative that now includes partnerships with the Foundation for Rural Integrated Enterprises and Development (Friend) for education of underprivileged children, the Mamanuca Environmental Society to preserve Fiji’s amazing coral reefs, and a soon to be announced health and wellness programme.
“As we prepare to fly as ‘Fiji Airways’ with brand new Airbus A330 aircraft, strong P&L, cash, and balance sheet positions, and international awards for being one of the best airlines in the world, it is clear that the company now has a proven track record of success and an exciting future ahead. With our modernization and rebranding almost complete and a completely new and highly capable management team in place, the time is right for me to pass the reigns and pursue other opportunities,” said Mr. Pflieger.
At the Board’s request, Mr. Pflieger, a business executive, attorney, and pilot with almost three decades of aviation experience, will assist with the selection and transition of a new chief executive and help ensure a smooth and successful introduction of the airline’s new aircraft and ‘Fiji Airways’ rebranding.
“The capstone of Air Pacific’s incredible turnaround will be the introduction of our new Airbus A330s. When we welcome the first of these three new wide-body aircraft in mid-March, it will be a proud day for the airline, Fiji, and all Fijians. Thus, I am especially pleased that Dave – as the architect of the airline’s turnaround, rebranding, and growth– will remain with us to see that through,” said Mr. Patel. “It is with great appreciation for a job extraordinarily well done that the Board thanks Dave for his leadership and wishes him and his family our very best regards for the future.”
STATEMENT FROM THE ATTORNEY GENERAL AND MINISTER FOR CIVIL AVIATION, AIYAZ SAYED- KHAIYUM, ON THE DEPATURE OF AIR PACIFIC CEO DAVE PFLIEGER
Dave Pflieger produced a paradigm shift at Air Pacific and transformed its fortunes. When he came to Fiji, the airline was in crisis and facing extreme financial difficulties. With skill, determination and his experience, he turned it around and made it profitable. He also built the much needed team spirit with all the Air Pacific personnel that turned it into a highly effective team.
Dave has presided over the rebranding of Air Pacific to Fiji Airways and the modernisation of its fleet with the purchase of three new Airbus A330s. He also introduced new systems and technology, including a new reservations system, forged an important code share arrangement with American Airlines and instituted a profit- sharing scheme for the airline’s staff.
As Air Pacific becomes Fiji Airways in June, there are exciting times ahead and much of that is due to Dave’s hard work. On behalf of the Bainimarama Government, I want to thank him for his service to the airline and to Fiji and wish him all the best.
We are very pleased that Dave is not leaving altogether. He intends to continue to support us to make Fiji Airways the pride of every Fijian.