Start-up carrier Fiji International Airways has reached agreement with London Stansted Airport to begin scheduled flights from Nadi, in Fiji, Mumbai, in India, and Singapore from early January 1998. The airline will operate Boeing 747-300s.

The carrier originally intended to launch services to Manchester in the UK, but has switched to Stansted partially to avoid competition with Singapore Airlines (SIA). Its thrice-weekly frequency will be the first long-range service from Asia to Stansted.

Fiji International has initiated talks with Ryan Air on codeshare services between Stansted and other UK domestic and European destinations, says chief executive Alan Lindrea. It also expects to conclude an agreement for a thrice-weekly codeshare deal with Lan Chile to link Nadi with Tahiti and onward connections to Santiago, Chile (Flight International, 24-30 September).

Under a recently ratified air-services agreement between Fiji and Singapore, the airline will be allowed to operate between the two islands, with beyond rights to two points in Europe, India and the Middle East. Fiji's civil-aviation authority is reviewing an application for an air-operators certificate.

The Singapore-based airline, in the meantime, is hoping to begin initial operations with charter flights, on a wet-lease arrangement with SIA. It has already signed a letter of intent to purchase SIA's two remaining 747-300 Combis and is looking at acquiring a third -300 Combi which Malaysia Airlines has for sale.

Fiji International commercial director Steve Core says that the aircraft will be reconfigured into a two-class layout, seating 40 in business on the upper deck and 284 in economy, including 36 in a 914mm pitch in the forward A zone. Aside from belly freight, the two 747s will each be able to carry up to six 4.3t pallets on their aft main decks.

Aircraft maintenance will be provided by SIA Engineering, while Singapore Airport Services and Gatwick Handling will provide ground services at Changi and Stansted respectively.

Source: Flight International