Fiji Airways is hoping to forge a closer relationship with Qantas Airways and Air New Zealand as part of its growth plans over the next five years.
The airline’s chief executive and managing director Stefan Pichler says that while relationships with the two carriers have been good, he would like to take it further.
“In Australia we have already met with Qantas management in December and we have both agreed that there is room for improvement on the commercial side,” he says.
Qantas has a 46% stake in Fiji Airways, however disagreements with Fiji’s military government forced it to remove its directors and other senior staff from the airline in 2012.
That year also saw Qantas’s budget subsidiary Jetstar launch its Sydney-Nadi services, where it also competes with Virgin Australia.
Pichler says that the outcome of its talks with Qantas will likely drive the direction of its future growth in the Australian market. It has already planned to increase capacity there by 28% over the next five years, which see it add more frequencies and destinations to the country.
The talks have not, however, extended to how the airline would work with Jetstar, which Pichler says operates in a different market segment.
“It’s a very different product,” he says. “Pricing wise, we don’t match Jetstar and we don’t need to. We compete with Virgin in this case, and consumers compare between Virgin and ourselves.”
He adds that there is also “room for improvement” in Fiji Airways’ relationship with Air NZ. The two carriers compete on Auckland-Christchurch services, however Air NZ codeshares on its flights between Nadi and New York.
Fiji Airways also has codeshare agreements with Cathay Pacific, American Airlines, Solomon Airlines and Alaska Airlines, and is hoping to add more soon.
“We cannot afford to annoy anybody,” he says.