Pacific Sun Fiji Launched

Last year Fiji's national airline Air Pacific purchased the country's second domestic carrier Sun Air. The relaunch of Pacific Sun as a regional carrier has been delayed until now by legal action from Air Fiji which claims it had an understanding that Air Pacific would not enter the domestic market. Although Air Fiji has just announced that they are filing suit again, Pacific Sun is pressing ahead with plans to launch their services on February 1, 2007.

This is good news for travelers. Until now, getting to the “Friendly North” from Viti Levu has been an expensive exercise with Air Fiji charging $221 Fijian one way from Nadi to Savusavu and $267 to Taveuni. This has effectively stiffled tourism development on Vanua Levu and Taveuni, encouraging most tourists to venture no further than the Coral Coast or the Mamanuca Group. The more adventurous have discovered the Yasawa Islands. Lower airfares will make more of the country accessible to budget travelers, and Air Fiji could use the competition.

Initially, Pacific Sun will operate on Sun Air's old routes, such as Nadi to Suva, Labasa, Savusavu, Taveuni, Kadavu, Mana, and Malololailai. In April, the company plans to reevaluate its services to better meet the needs of customers, depending on what happens between now and then. Pacific Sun will be using Sun Air's original fleet of Twin Otters, plus two new 44-seat ATR42-500 planes. If you've flown Air Tahiti, you're already familiar with the ATR, a fast, sturdy aircraft well suited to island conditions. The ATRs will soon be flying from Fiji to Tonga, Funafuti, and Port Vila, creating new opportunities for travelers.

In case you hadn't heard, the 14th season of the reality television program Survivor was filmed on northern Vanua Levu last year. CBC will show the first episode of Survivor Fiji to hundreds of thousands of American viewers at 8 p.m. on February 8, 2007. That's just what Fiji needs to get its tourism industry back on track after the negative publicity which followed the December, 2006, military coup. Since the coup, all has remained calm in Fiji, not a stone has been thrown nor a window broken, and it's a great time to go as many resorts are offering discounts of up to 50 percent. These bargains won't last forever, so call your travel agent soon.

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