Nov 22, 2017 Last Updated 9:11 AM, Nov 15, 2017

Dreams in the air

Carriers review fleets

TWO of the Pacific’s major carriers have started a review of their fleets which could see the Boeing 787 Dreamliner winging across regional skies in the near future. Fiji Airways is expected to take delivery of the next generation Boeing 737 Max8 early next year to replace the current 737-800s and 737-700 aircraft. Last month, one of the airline’s older Boeing 737s suffered a pressurisation fault between Christmas Island and Honolulu, forcing the crew to make a rapid descent to 10,000 feet and maintain that altitude until the end of the flight.

While Fiji Airways has an impeccable safety record, the incident did highlight the age of its Boeing 737 fleet, the backbone of its regional and short-haul service using narrow-body aircraft. On longer flights Fiji’s national carrier uses three Airbus A330 aircraft which have been unable to meet the huge demand for freight on long-haul services into Hong Kong, Singapore and the West Coast of the United States. “Fiji Airways’ inability to carry too much freight out of its Nadi hub has opened the door to Air New Zealand which operates the Boeing 777 with huge cargo capacity through Nadi to Los Angeles,” an airline insider told Islands Business.

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CORSIA maps the future

THE aviation sector has a strong track record for climate action. Historically, efficiency improvements in the aviation sector outperform the wider economy: since 1990, aviation efficiency has improved at almost twice the rate of the wider economy.

Taking a longer-term view, CO2 emissions efficiency per seat improved by 80 per cent since the 1950s In 2009, the aviation industry adopted a climate strategy. The sector’s strategy to tackle the climate challenge consists of 3 global goals and 4 pillars of climate action.

The three industry goals are:

1. Pre-2020 ambition: 1.5 per cent annual average fuel efficiency improvement from 2009 to 2020;

2. In line with the next UNFCCC commitment period, stabilise net aviation CO2 emissions at 2020 levels with carbon neutral growth;

3. On the 2°C pathway: reduce aviation’s net CO2 emissions to 50 per cent of what they were in 2005, by 2050.

The 4 pillars of climate action that will make it possible to achieve these goals are:

1. Technology, including sustainable alternative fuels

2. Operations

3. Infrastructure

4. A global market-based measure: CORSIA

The first 3 pillars are intended to achieve emissions reductions in the aviation sector thereby bringing it closer to achieving the three goals. The fourth pillar – a marketbased measure...

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Samoa clips Virgin wings

Is Polynesian set for comeback?

AN unhappy Samoa Government has signalled an end to its aviation agreement with Virgin Australia from November, opening opportunities for regional and international airlines to fly into Apia. Samoan Prime Minister, Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi, has been dissatisfied with fares for some time, claiming that Virgin Australia and Air New Zealand, formerly a Virgin Australia shareholder and the only other major airline servicing the island nation, had been colluding on fares.

Until 2005 when Virgin entered the market, Samoa had its own national carrier – Polynesian Airlines – with flights to Nadi, Auckland and Tonga. The termination of the Virgin contract means that Polynesian’s return is a distinct possibility on the back of a major push by Samoa for increased tourism arrivals from China, Australia, New Zealand and the United States.

“We can’t continue this partnership,” Malielegaoi wrote to Virgin Australia CEO, John Borghetti, in a letter sighted by the Samoa Observer. “For any country, they must have their national airline.” Malielegaoi went on to say that the decision to part ways had been made by Cabinet. “Following numerous, extensive discussions, Cabinet has decided not to renew the joint venture,” he said. “This can’t continue on especially when the airfares continue to increase and the hotels are complaining that there are no.....

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Tonga eyes Apia route

Talks start on flight options

THE withdrawal of Samoa from a joint venture with Virgin Australia has sent regional airlines into a frenzy. In June, Real Tonga’s Deputy CEO, Fakatele Faletau, flew into Samoa to look at the possibility of scheduled flights between the Polynesian neighbours.

The move came just a week after Samoan Prime Minister, Tuilapea Sailele Malielegaoi, made public the region’s worst kept aviation secret – his country was fed up with its deal with Virgin. Faletau was coy when approached by Islands Business in Sydney to discuss his Samoa visit.

“We are looking at options, including an air service agreement with Samoa,” Faletau said. “It’s all part of doing business in the Pacific. We need to discuss issues which are important nationally and commercially.” If Real Tonga can secure flights into Samoa, the service will allow an optional link from Nuku’alofa connecting off Fiji Airways’ current route from Nadi to Fua’motu.

The benefit to Tonga will be that it can attract visitors to spend time in the kingdom before travelling on to Samoa or back to Fiji. Real Tonga will want to extract an agreement from Samoa based on the kingdom allowing Talofa Airlines to fly from Pago Pago to Vava’u, Nuku’alofa and Apia.

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Heavy lift

Regional airlines ink flight deal

TWO of the region’s smaller airlines have signed a deal which will link three regional destinations and a metropolitan business centre. The deal between Air Kiribati and Solomon Airlines will see a new service linking Tarawa in Kiribati with the Solomon Islands capital, Honiara.

The flight will begin in Brisbane, Australia and hop to Honiara before going through the major international hub at Fiji’s Nadi International Airport for the northern leg to Tarawa. Kiribati Minister for Transport and Tourism Development, Willie Tokataake, said the collaboration was important in its capacity to significantly boosts aviation access into his country.

“There is no doubt this new agreement will boost economic development opportunities and in particular tourism and export opportunities for Kiribati,” the minister said. Fiji Airways and Our Airline also offer services through Kiribati’s Bonriki International Airport using Boeing 737 aircraft.

Solomon Airlines is likely to use its Airbus A320 on the new service flying passengers and freight into the tiny atoll state. Tourism operators and fishing companies have in the past called for increased services to and from Kiribati in order to grow these two important industries. 

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