The Minister for Home Affairs Pio Tikoduadua has clarified that the U.S. Government has not given Fiji an executive plane, but that the aircraft is being made available for Pacific Islands Leaders for official use.
Speaking to FijiLive, Tikoduadua said the asset belongs to the U.S. Government, and is the purview of the Ministry of Home Affairs to maintain and look after.
Tikoduadua said Heads of Government intending to use the aircraft will need to put in writing through their respective High Commissions the intentions of the use of the jet, where the Ministry of Home Affairs will facilitate the release of the executive jet.
He also clarified that the maintenance, refuelling and the pilots flying the plane, because the asset belongs to the U.S. Government, is being looked after by them.
Tikoduadua confirmed that he has yet to receive from the Prime Minister on whether he is the only Minister allowed to use the executive jet; but he understands that the aircraft is under the responsibility of his Ministry.
The Minister said Fiji currently utilises aircrafts from New Zealand, Australia, France and the United States to undertake prioritised national tasking including but not limited to Humanitarian Aid and Disaster Response, Search and Rescue and Maritime Surveillance, amongst others.
Tikoduadua said this is indicative of the broad support provided by our development partners, and no doubt this will only improve in the future.
He added that next year, Fiji will benefit from the use of C7s platform provided by Australia for national tasking.
Meanwhile, it is understood that the plane is being operated by a U.S. Government Agency.