The naming of a Fiji Airways Airbus A300 as the Island of Beqa will be an opportunity for the airline to highlight the special qualities and attractions with people around the world.
Acting Prime Minister and Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum made the comments to elders and people of Beqa and guests, who were at the Fiji Airways hangar at Nadi International Airport, to witness the naming ceremony for the aircraft.
Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said this was a proud moment for the people of Beqa and he wanted every place in Fiji to have an association with the company because this was Fiji’s pride and joy.
Fiji Airways has made a seismic movement from where it was six-seven years ago, resulting in a much bigger footprint for the airline.
Fiji Airways flies to every continent in the Pacific Rim, except South America.
Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama had suggested the name after being asked by Fiji Airways.
Rosalia, Seruwaia and Esther with Acting Prime Minister and Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum inside the Fiji Airways Island of Beqa plane at the Nadi International Airport on May 11, 2018. Photo: DEPTFO News
He said it should be understood that a company like Fiji Airways was at the forefront of marketing Fiji.
“This is the only company from Fiji that people will see in other cities,” Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said.
He said it was a huge achievement to have an aircraft on the ground in many major cities around the world.
“This can only be achieved by being strict in the manner in which you run your company – about being disciplined and having a vision,” Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said.
“Today we are planning to lease wide-bodied aircraft such as A350s and 787s that have a longer reach and fly to other destinations to bring more people here.
“We need to ensure that as an island nation, with the bulk of the people that come and visit us, that our national carrier is always up and running.
“It must be protected, otherwise it would be left to the policies of other companies.”
Mr Sayed-Khaiyum highlighted the fact that about 4500 delegates would attend an Asia Development Bank conference in Fiji next year.
“ADB gave Fiji the honour, the first ADB meeting in May next year,” he said.
“Can you imagine what that will do to the economy?”
Fiji Airways General Manager Engineering Thomas Robinson said this was the fifth Airbus A330 aircraft for the aireline and arrived a little over a week ago from Abu Dhabi from its previous owner – Ethihad Airways.
“Our various teams worked hard over the past fortnight to prepare the aircraft for operations by doing minor interior refurbishments,” he said.
“While the aircraft is not completely in the usual Fiji Airways interior design and seat specifications, it allows us the opportunity to do something really exciting with it.”
Unlike the four other A330s, this aircraft is not brand new and neither will the next A330, which will arrive in the next few months.
This is because these are interim aircraft on a short-term lease of four years, but will give Fiji Airways the extra capacity needed in the short term to grow new routes such as Narita, Japan, and build on existing routes such as Singapore and San Francisco.
From the hustle and bustle of Hong Kong to the star-studded streets of Los Angeles and everywhere else on the airline’s network that this aircraft will operate, hundreds of thousands of people will see the Island of Beqa flying proudly alongside the Fijian flag.