Friday, June 14, 2024
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Open skies a death warrant for Fiji Airways: Koya

Opposition MP Faiyaz Koya says the Government’s proposal for Fiji’s transition to Open Skies could be the death warrant for Fiji Airways.

Speaking in Parliament and responding to the Ministerial Statement of the Minister for Civil Aviation and Tourism, Koya said two of the most important people in the industry would be the Minister and Fiji Airways Chief Executive who have already shared their concerns about the impact of open skies policy on a small national carrier like Fiji Airways, but who have changed their tunes now.

Koya said: “This is what you call flipping and flopping.”

“This is the same CEO; he warned that while increased competition might lower airfares, it could also lead to the demise of the national airline.”

However, the Minister Responsible for Civil Aviation Viliame Gavoka said the open skies agreement allows unlimited commercial services by designated airlines without needing explicit ministerial approval for routes, capacity, frequency, and pricing.

He said sovereignty is preserved, with interventions limited to safety and security. These agreements liberalize and deregulate the international aviation market.

Gavoka said key features include no route restrictions, unlimited frequency and capacity, and deregulated pricing, where airlines set fares based on market conditions.

“The Coalition Government fully supports our national airline’s network diversification plans to enhance profitability through the open skies policy. We believe the open skies agreement will enable the airline to operate commercially, allocate capital efficiently, and adapt to changes. This policy will help our national airline expand, optimize capacity and ownership, and improve return on investment,” Gavoka said.

However, the Opposition MP said countries that have adopted open skies policy invariably happen are that the larger airlines come in and cannibalize the local airlines.

Koya said: “We must protect our national airline at all costs. If we start even thinking about open skies… we are asking for trouble if we go down the road because his narrative now, his open skies is what we can do for Fiji.”

FijiLive has also reached out to Fiji Airways for comments.

Ilaitia Ravuwai
Ilaitia Ravuwai
Journalist | news@fijilive.com

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