02 April 2013

Ni sa bula vinaka to Fiji Airways

Ni sa bula vinaka - a warm hello - to Fiji Airways' new Airbus 330-243 DQ-FJT (c/n 1394) that made its first flight into Auckland this afternoon. A large number of Fijians were gathered in the airport view car parks and the arrival of the new Fiji Airways' flagship, Taveuni, was greeting with cheering and broad smiles...

DQ-FJT is the first of three Airbus 330s to arrive for Fiji Airways, the rebranded Air Pacific. The other two are due to arrive in May and November. The airline hopes to have all of its Boeing 737s repainted in the new scheme by the end of the year while the Boeing 747-400s will be retired. 

The Fiji Airways name is not new. The company traces its origins back to 1951. It was founded by Harold George Gatty and on the 1st of September that year a 7-seater De Havilland Dragon Rapide flew from Nausori Airport to Drasa Airport near Lautoka, on the west coast of Viti Levu. This was the company's first commercial flight which operated under the name Katafaga Estates. The airline adopted the name Fiji Airways shortly afterwards and continued to operate under that name until it was rebranded as Air Pacific in 1971. The 1971 rebranding was part of an attempt to develop the airline as a  regional carrier for the small Pacific Island states. Below are some of the early Fiji Airways fleet... the company has certainly come along way in its equipment and also how they were presented - the old aircraft had a colonial look about them, carrying the Union Jack. The new Airbus 330, however, is proudly Fijian!

De Havilland DHA-3 Drover VQ-FAS at Nadi on 18 January 1957
De Havilland DH114 Heron VQ-FAY at Naursori
Douglas DC-3 VQ-FAI at Nausori in 1966
It was also great to meet up with two other aviation enthusiasts capturing the moment, Mark Cranston and John Mounce.

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