Air Pacific begins restructure with eye on new widebody aircraft

Air Pacific 747
Better times ahead? Photograph: AirSpace user boeing777


Debt-ridden Loss-making carrier Air Pacific hopes to turn its prospects around by restructuring its schedule and fleet by retiring its Boeing 767 and adding a 737 as it finalises an imminent acquisition plan for widebody aircraft.

The Fijian national carrier expects to announce its wide-body selection within a month, a spokesman said.

Contenders are Airbus A330 aircraft and Boeing 777-200 aircraft formerly with Singapore Airlines, according to sources familiar with the matter. Air Pacific declined to provide further comment on the acquisition.

In April the carrier cancelled its order for eight Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner aircraft. At the time a spokesman said the carrier was in discussions with Airbus and Boeing for its future aircraft needs.

“Our fleet and 2012 schedule changes will create a much more efficient and effective network that is an essential part of our overall plan to create a better airline for our customers,” chief executive Dave Pflieger said. Air Pacific last year reported a F$65.3 million ($36.5 million) loss, the largest in its 59-year history.

Air Pacific 737.jpgPhotograph: AirSpace user FlyPHANUK



Air Pacific will return by mid-January its sole Boeing 767, a -300ER variant on lease from AWAS, according to Flightglobal’s ACAS database. In November Air Pacific will add a 737-800 to its 737 fleet that comprises one 737-700 and two 737-800 aircraft.

“Replacing our 1994 vintage B767-300ER with an almost new B737-800 is the first step in Air Pacific’s fleet renewal process,” Pflieger said. The fleet change will see Air Pacific nearly double its Sydney services from 6x weekly to 13x weekly and enable the carrier to re-deploy its fleet of two Boeing 747-400 aircraft to Hong Kong.

Pflieger said the 747-400 will bring an additional 165 seats, or 22%, per week into Hong Kong, “adding much needed seats to this fast growing route.”

The schedule change will permit same-day connections from Air Pacific’s Nadi hub to the country’s outer islands.

Air Pacific will also increase capacity into Auckland.

Australia’s Qantas Airways holds a 46% share in Air Pacific although it acknowledged in 2009 it was in talks with the Fijian government to sell its stake. Qantas said it was looking to sell its stake due to changing market conditions, namely Virgin Australia’s Pacific Blue capturing market share, and Qantas re-evaluating its investments.

Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce said last year talks were still ongoing.

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