22 Jan 2004

Air Pacific worried about Virgin Blue

11:20 am on 22 January 2004

Fiji's national airline, Air Pacific, has for the first time expressed serious concern about the impending entry of the Australian budget airline, Virgin Blue, into the Fiji market.

Air Pacific's managing director, John Campbell, has told Fiji TV that Virgin Blue will attract the wrong type of tourist into the country and also undermined Air Pacific's plans for future growth.

Mr Campbell says people flying low fare airlines do not have much discretionary spending money, and will not benefit the Fiji economy.

He says low airfares could also work against regional countries such as Tonga and Samoa because Air Pacific takes profits from some routes to cross-subsidise others.

Mr Campbell says Air Pacific has a good product and will defend it vigorously.

But Virgin blue founder, Richard Branson, says any airline should be allowed to fly anywhere because competition improves services.

The entry of several new airlines on the Trans-Tasman market between New Zealand and Australia has dramatically reduced fares on that route.