Fiji Airways has paid its major shareholder, the Fijian Government, a dividend of more than FJD $2.5m following its record profit of $60.8m last year.

A cheque for the amount was formally handed over today to the Attorney General and Minister for Aviation, the Hon Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum, by the Chairman of Fiji Airways, Nalin Patel.

The dividend allocation to the Fijian Government – which owns 51 per cent of the airline – is part of an overall payment of just under FJD $5 million. ( FJD $4,957,576.33 )

The rest is shared with the other major shareholder, Qantas – which holds a 46 per stake in Fiji Airways – plus the other shareholders – Air New Zealand and the Governments of Kiribati, Tonga, Samoa and Nauru.

Fiji receives a total payment of FJD $2,528,344.25, Qantas receives FJD $2,296,118.08 and the others receive amounts depending on their respective stakes.

Last year’s operating profit by Air Pacific Limited, trading as the Fiji Airways Group, was more than double that of the previous best result in 2005 and today’s  dividend payout is the first since 2008.

It represents a return on the earnings of Fiji Airways and its subsidiaries Fiji Link and Pacific Call Comm Ltd plus the Group’s 38.75 per cent stake in Richmond Limited, owners of the Sofitel Fiji Resort and Spa on Denarau Island.

Mr Patel said Fiji Airways was delighted to be now in a position to share its financial success by giving a return to its shareholders as well as rewarding its staff through its pioneering profit-sharing scheme announced in February.

“Since rebranding to Fiji Airways from Air Pacific in 2013, the airline has achieved significant success thanks to the hard work of our entire team. Alongside our dividend distribution today, 835 eligible non-management staff have also received a profit sharing payout of $3000 each. And all eligible Fiji Airways and Fiji Link managers received a management bonus of $7,000 each, subject to tax and superannuation deductions as required,” he said.

In accepting the dividend cheque, the Attorney General also paid tribute to the staff of Fiji Airways for what he termed their great contribution to the airline’s financial performance.

“On behalf of the nation, I want to thank every worker at Fiji Airways for showing every Fijian what is possible when employees work constructively with their managers as a team. An airline that many had written off is now flying high again thanks largely to your efforts. And every Fijian is benefitting not only from the dividend cheque we are receiving on their behalf today but in the great pride we all feel in Fiji Airways. With your continuing efforts, we are well on the way to fulfilling our ambition to build a world class boutique airline and take the Fiji Airways brand to more destinations,” he said.

The Acting CEO of Fiji Airways, David Bowden, said the national airline had been turned around with the adoption of a clear and strategic five-year plan that commenced in December 2013.

“Our financial performance provides us with the foundation to continue to build the business over the remainder of the five year plan, but there’s no room for complacency. We must continue to make long-term financial decisions that are sustainable and in the best interests of the airline. On this basis, we look forward to sharing more of our success with our staff and shareholders at the conclusion of the current 2015 financial year,” he said.

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