Attorney General and Minister for Civil Aviation, Mr Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum’s official address at the launch of Fiji Airways
Wednesday 26th June, 2013
Sheraton Fiji Resort, Denarau.

The Chairman of Fiji Airways
The Board, management and staff of our national airline,
Distinguished guests,
Ladies and Gentlemen.

Well, we were all extremely impressed with the design on the bodies of our new aircraft. But what about the new design on the bodies of our cabin crew.

These new uniforms have, of course, been eagerly awaited. But I think few people would have ever thought they could match the standard of Makareta Matemosi’s overall design.

Quite clearly they do and I want to pay tribute to the local design team responsible – Alexandra Poenaru-Philp, Savitri Rae and the team at United Apparel who made these magnificent uniforms.

In a world that craves authenticity, Fiji Airways has delivered in spades. This is truly Fijian crafted, Fijian made. And I think I can speak for every Fijian in saying how proud we all are of the new look.

As we’ve seen, it extends to the new aircraft interiors, vibrant colours set against muted cabin tones and the cushions, duvets and accessories echoing Makareta’s original exterior design. It is, quite simply, a triumph and I’d ask you all to show your appreciation to those responsible with a warm round of applause.

So much has been said publicly in recent months – not least by the Prime Minister – about the importance of this moment. The PM, of course, left for Russia today leading the first-ever Fijian delegation to visit that country.

He would have loved to have been here because he shares our enthusiasm for the symbolic nature of tonight’s event…when Air Pacific finally, officially, becomes Fiji Airways.

It is a historic moment for the airline and a historic moment in the life of our country. Our national carrier is no longer a generic Pacific brand but becomes an intrinsic part of Brand Fiji – the way in which our country presents itself to the world.

Fiji Airways joins Tourism Fiji, Film Fiji and Investment Fiji as Brand Fiji - that defines our country, its aspirations and untapped opportunities.

As the PM said in his address to the nation last night on the Golan Heights deployment: “we are building a better Fiji and have ambitious plans for our nation”. And nothing is more ambitious – more symbolic of our aspirations – than what we are celebrating here tonight.
From tomorrow, Fiji Airways officially soars into a new era with the first wide-bodied planes our country has ever owned – three brand new A330 200s.

They are an investment in Fiji’s future. Because already, Air Pacific has played a vital role in our economy by bringing just under 70 percent of international visitors to our shores.

With this new product – and that’s what it is – those travellers have even more reason to choose Fiji Airways.

Every facet of the travelling experience on the airline is now state of the art and eclipses its competitors – the brand new planes, the revamped full-service in-flight experience, the trademark Fijian welcome from check-in to baggage collection.

Genuine, authentic, unrivalled. Fiji, where happiness finds you, now in the air as well as on the ground when you arrive.
I want to pay particular tribute to the Fiji Airways staff for the way in which they have handled the reform process of the past few years. They have helped us rescue the airline from almost certain disaster and made it soar again.

The way in which you have embraced these reforms has been an act of faith that is already bearing dividends.

For the first time next year, the staff of Fiji Airways will receive a share of the profits. Such collaboration and partnership is the first of its type in Fiji. It will lead to success individually for its employees, for the company as a whole and ensure further investment, employment security and job creation.

Fiji Airways staff have set the standard for successful employer/employee relations in Fiji.

Fiji Airways has also set a new standard for state owned or partially state owned enterprises. Indeed, this standard applies to all companies.

-With financial discipline; with a vision beyond the norm; with a firm focus; with appointments on merit matched by an investment in your human resources; and with employer/ employee collaboration; a company can not only be rescued but preform exceptionally well with a strong balance sheet and a guaranteed future.

Tonight, we say goodbye to Air Pacific after 42 years. But that goodbye is more than offset by the thrill of rediscovering our roots in Fiji Airways - the name of our national airline from the mid-1950s until 1971.

Ladies and Gentlemen, you will always have a choice of carrier. But tonight, I urge every one of you in this room, and every Fijian, to fly Fiji Airways…our airline, the Fijian airline… the one that keeps the travelling dollar in Fiji… the one that represents the Fijian spirit - the best.

I now have the greatest pleasure in launching a new era by officially declaring the launch of Fiji Airways.

Vinaka vakalevu, thank you.