SUVA, Sept. 16 (Xinhua) -- Fiji Airways, the island country's national carrier, criticised Australia's Qantas Airways on Monday for wanting to increase flights to Fiji, damaging the national carrier.
Qantas is a major shareholder and long standing commercial partner of Fiji Airways, but its announcement in January that it would be commencing its own services to Fiji has made it a major competitor to Fiji Airways.
According to Fiji Broadcasting Corporation (FBC), Fiji Airways officials met with Qantas on a number of occasions to voice their concerns, however nothing has changed.
Fiji Airways Chief Executive Andre Viljeon said this brings into question the entire commercial rationale in the new flight arrangement.
Qantas indicated that it will be increasing from four flights per week to a daily service between Sydney and Nadi (Fiji's third largest town) later this year, he said, adding that it is very difficult for a small Pacific island's carrier to compete with the substantial market power and financial capability of Qantas, which dwarfs the resources and capability of Fiji Airways.
Qantas has cited increased connectivity for its own passengers as a key reason for flying to Fiji.
The airline's head Alison Webster said more than 365,000 Australians travel to Fiji each year.
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.