A Fijian start-up carrier is planning to launch scheduled passenger and freight services from Nadi to selected Asian, European, Indian and South Pacific destinations from early 1998.

According to Fiji International Airway's Singapore-based chief executive, Alan Lindrea, the company hopes to be granted an air operator's certificate by the Fijian Civil Aviation Administration. The start-up is also subject to approval from the Fiji Trade and Investment Board and ratification of an as-yet-unsigned 24-year-old bilateral between Singapore and Fiji.

Fiji International initially intends to offer a twice-weekly service from Nadi to Manchester, via Singapore and Mumbai. A third weekly frequency will operate from Nadi to London's Heathrow Airport, via Singapore and Athens. The new carrier in addition, is discussing with LanChile a thrice- weekly codeshare service between Fiji and Tahiti, with onward connections to Santiago in Chile.

The proposed route network is designed to take advantage of the sizeable Indian community living in Fiji, as well as the large Greek population in Australia. Fiji International is looking for an interline deal with an Australian carrier to pick up traffic in Singapore.

Lindrea says that the carrier does not want to compete directly with Fijian flag carrier Air Pacific on its main trunk routes to Australia, Japan or the USA. He adds: "We are not going to compete against Singapore Airlines [SIA]. We will only compete if we lower our fares, and we don't intend to do that."

The airline is discussing leasing two 326-seat Boeing 747-300 Combis from SIA. It plans to man the aircraft with cabin and cockpit crew recruited from Singapore and Fiji and rely on SIA for aircraft maintenance and ground handling.

Fiji International's Singapore operation will take over Royal Jordanian Airline's vacated site at Singapore's Changi Airport shortly. It has also linked with the UK's Airline Management Group to provide administrative expertise and cargo support worldwide.

The company, which will have a 51% Fijian shareholding to conform with bilateral air-service requirements, is believed to be backed by "Malaysian money" and has a paid-up capital of $720,000, with additional funds set aside for aircraft leasing.

Source: Flight International