Fiji Airways is angry at Qantas, the Australian airline that owns a 46% stake in it. Is the anger justified or just another example of protectionism?
Earlier this year, Qantas started flying 4x/week between Sydney and Nadi, Fiji, the hub for Fiji Airways. At the time, Fiji Airways called it an odd move, noting the sizable majority stake Qantas holds and the fact that the two have been codesharing on the route for 17 years.
Now Qantas will up its service to Australia to daily. This is both alarming and angering to Fiji Airways Chief Executive Officer Andre Viljoen. He told the Sydney Morning Herald:
It is certainly alarming when your major shareholder and long-standing commercial partner all of a sudden becomes your major competitor. Qantas’ sudden flip from ally to adversary has been very damaging for Fiji Airways. It is competing aggressively, actively directing passengers onto Qantas and Jetstar services.
He noted “flat” demand to/from Australia and added that Qantas is unlikely to profit and will only hurt the environment:
We estimate that Qantas will struggle to turn a profit on the route. Adding additional daily flights just means that there will be more half-empty flights traveling between Australia and Fiji. This is not good for business and certainly isn’t good for the environment.
Qantas insists it is not acting aggressively, noting the daily flights will only be over the Christmas and New Years period and that it “remain[s] committed to that arrangement”.
But Viljoen insists the move is a “race to the bottom” that will hurt the Fijian economy.
Fiji Airways is a vital contributor to the Fijian economy, as well as the regional economies of neighboring South-West Pacific States whose economies, like Fiji, are highly dependent upon tourism and trade. The public should be aware that this race to the bottom only stands to damage the economic stability of one of their favorite holiday destinations, to the great detriment of the Fijian people.
On the surface, Viljoen’s logic makes sense. At the same time, it always sounds like the standard whining we hear from Delta over competition from Gulf Carriers…nothing but unabashed protectionism. The delta here, if you will, is that Qantas owns nearly half of Fiji Airways. It seems odd that Qantas would deliberately undercut itself if the extra demand was not necessary over the peak holiday period.
Do you side with Qantas or Fiji Airways in this debate?
> Read More: Fiji Becomes More Isolated
QANTAS has a very long , unpleasant history of predatory pricing. Relationships mean nothing to them, nor does loyalty other than as a means to an end. They are on the verge of becoming a monopoly in the Australian market, as Virgin continues to struggle ( in part a consequence of a QANTAS-led fare war); that would be a disaster for consumers.
My sympathies are with Fiji .
Serves them right! Fiji Airways has been complacent for too long. Time to shake up the game. Qantas needs a LAX to Nadi flight so we can avoid flying the Fijian nightmare.
I’m not sure. Qantas kind of wants the best of all worlds. They cheerfully enjoy massive protection against competition by the Australian government but also want every advantage of a free market competitor. I suppose that the Fiji government could just do what the Australian government does and limit flights that they don’t like in order to protect the home airline.
Due solely to Qantas’ hypocrisy, I’m with Fiji here.
Pretty much like american carriers against gulf carrier. LoL
Completely true. That’s why I was unhappy about the American/Qantas jv. and the Skyteam one as well. Less competition, what could possibly go wrong?
Well I think it is a great move by Qantas. When there is 2 airlines there is will be cheaper fares. Fiji airways just want to squeeze a much as they could from a passenger travelling. First their carry on baggage….it has to be certain size much smaller than what southwest or any other airlines allow. I hate to see 1 agent checking all the carry on before check-in. Second they seem to get cheaper meals for the passengers. Third the economy seats are much smaller on the A330’s with very minimal leg room. They don’t care about comfort of passengers…all they care is about filling all the seats . I hope there will be other airlines flying direct from us soon.
A Bonus for Air Terminal Services (ATS) with Qantas Back in the Books ,since Korean Air pulled out of Fiji….Go ATS
It is quite weird and unlogical for such a move as Qantas holds a 46% stake in Fiji Airways, adding new flights would just mean something like worsening Fiji Airways’ revenue (whose 46% or so would eventually come into Qantas account) while just make a marginal profit for Qantas itself.