Palau's PacificFlier relooks business plan after suspension

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Palau-based PacificFlier, which has suspended its operations, says that it is reorganising its route network and obtaining new aircraft to relaunch flights.

The carrier has not been able to secure traffic rights for scheduled flights since it began regular charter flights in March, says PacificFlier. It has also undergone an ownership change since then.

"The time it will take to re-launch is totally dependent on US regulators in particular as the equipment is changed," says the carrier, which had begun operations with Airbus A310 aircraft.

It had leased the aircraft from Portuguese non-scheduled airline Hi Fly on a wet lease arrangement.

"Replacement aircraft have been sourced and applications will be made to regulators to place the new aircraft on the charter and scheduled programmes. This will be a change in aircraft type," says PacificFlier, without elaborating on the new aircraft type.

The carrier says it had launched operations "prematurely" in March, and adds that it was "foolhardy to continue to operate on parameters now proven to be inappropriate".

"The launch was done at the time to meet the requirements of major potential tuna shippers and alleged confirmed rights to Asia. History will show that the necessary traffic rights were not forthcoming nor were the perishable shipments," it adds.

Difficulties in securing traffic rights had led to "substantial trading losses", says the airline.

PacificFlier had been operating regular charter flights between Palau, Gold Coast, Guam and Manila's Clark Airport.

On 1 July, it applied to the US DOT to begin scheduled services between Palau and Guam. The application is still pending, according to a government filing.

PacificFlier will continue to pursue applications with the US and Philippine authorities for scheduled traffic rights, says the airline.

"A complete review of the schedule, timetable and route structure is currently being carried out," it adds.

The carrier has also undergone a management change since its launch. It is now majority-owned by Australian Grant Vickers, who is executive chairman and president of the airline, according to a recent filing with the DOT.

Previously, PacificFlier was owned by Vickers, Australian Reginald Free and New Zealander Rex Banks, according to a DOT filing last December. Banks, who was listed then as CEO of the airline, appears to have left PacificFlier.