CAPTION: Pacific Sun will soon have a new ATR-72 similar to this one. Photo: COURTESY OF ATR.
New acquisition to boost domestic and regional travel and trade
Pacific Sun, Fiji Airways’ regional subsidiary has today announced that it will lease an ATR 72-600 aircraft, to add to its fleet of two ATR 42-500 and three DHC Havilland Twin Otter aircraft. Pacific Sun has signed a formal Letter of Intent (LOI) for this leased aircraft with Singapore-based aircraft leasing company Avation PLC.
Pending the signing of the formal contract, the brand new ATR 72-600 is expected to arrive in Fiji in April 2014. The aircraft would be acquired on an operating lease for 12 years and funded without the need for any external financing. Pacific Sun intends to use the new aircraft on its domestic and regional (Pacific Islands) routes, which it operates on behalf of Fiji Airways.
Nalin Patel, Pacific Sun’s Chairman said the intent to acquire an additional, larger aircraft stems from the airline’s confidence in the growth of domestic and regional travel.
“Pacific Sun provides an invaluable link between Fiji’s main and outer islands, as well as between Fiji and its Pacific neighbours, Mr. Patel said. “With the growth in domestic and regional traffic experienced in the past years and a restructure of Pacific Sun’s operations under the leadership of General Manager Shaenaz Voss now complete, the time is now right for the airline to expand its fleet. This will provide a boost to travel between Fiji’s larger domestic ports (Nadi, Suva and Labasa), as well as encourage further travel and trade between Fiji, Tuvalu, Kiribati, Vanuatu, Samoa and Tonga.”
Voss says the decision to acquire the larger ATR 72-600 aircraft, which can carry 68 passengers was done after a careful and independent assessment of Pacific Sun’s route network and the traffic it carried year round.
“What this acquisition will allow us to do is match demand with the right capacity. Due to its size, our new ATR will operate between Fiji’s larger ports – Nadi, Suva and Labasa, and from Fiji to other Pacific island destinations, so naturally we will increase frequency of flights between to our Regional Ports. While we look forward to announcing what our schedules will look like, we can safely say that the increased capacity and frequency will allow us to offer more convenient services with even better connectivity opportunities with Fiji Airways’ international schedules.”
Pacific Sun’s ATR pilots will undergo a ‘difference’ course and will be certified to operate both ATR 42 and ATR 72 aircraft types when the new aircraft joins the fleet.
“While we have the required number of pilots to operate the new ATR 72 once it’s inducted into the fleet, we will also promote from within our existing national pilot complement”.
Aubrey Swift, Fiji Airways Acting CEO says the new aircraft acquisition is the start of further investment the parent company will make in Pacific Sun.
“Now that Fiji Airways has been launched and all continues to go well for the national carrier, the Board and Fiji Airways’ Management now turn the focus to our regional subsidiary. As part of the Fiji Airways revitalisation and turnaround, Pacific Sun has already undergone operational restructuring. The work going on now is fleet and network optimisation to ensure that Pacific Sun adds valuable capacity to the domestic and regional markets.”