Air Pacific Buys Sun Air

Air PacificAir Pacific has purchased Sun Air, one of Fiji's largest domestic carriers. It's all part of a strategy by the government-owned airline to fill seats by developing tourism in Fiji. After years of complaining about a lack of luxury hotel beds, Air Pacific has begun financing the construction of luxury hotels on Denarau Island near Nadi Airport. In April, the airline announced that it was buying five Boeing 787-9 dreamliner aircraft capable of carrying 320 passengers up to 16,300 kilometers, making nonstop flights to New Delhi and New York feasible. Air Pacific is on a roll.

By going domestic, Air Pacific will now be able to offer one carrier service to islands all around Fiji. In future, expect to hear a lot more hype about the wonders of Savusavu and Taveuni. Unlike Air Fiji which is based at Suva's Nausori Airport, Sun Air (formerly Sunflower Airlines) has always used Nadi as its hub, making it an ideal extension of Air Pacific's international services. From July, Sun Air will be known as "Fiji Airlines Limited", which is a return to roots in a way as Air Pacific was originally called Fiji Airways.

Air Pacific claims the new domestic airline will be more affordable than its predecessor, so watch for specials later this year. New routes are being suggested, including ATR42 flights from Suva to Tonga and Vanuatu. Fiji's last frontier, Rotuma, may also be developed for tourism. The new company will certainly have access to more capital to upgrade its fleet. And for consumers like ourselves, all of this is a good thing. It's about time Air Fiji faced stiffer competition. Welcome Fiji Airlines.

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