SUVA, May 8 (Xinhua) -- Fiji Airways, Fiji's national carrier, on Friday has extended all its international flight suspensions to the end of June due to the prolonged impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to a statement by Fiji Airways on Friday, the national carrier also expects to reduce its scheduled services in July as the COVID-19 crisis continues to decimate travel demand.
In March, the airline announced the suspension of all its international flights until the end of May.
Fiji Airways' Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Andre Viljoen said that even with tentative schedules for July, any resumption of flights will depend on the easing of border restrictions and return of demand.
While the near-term outlook remains bleak, the airline remains flexible and will be ready to launch services as soon as practical, he said, adding that the extension by a month is a "difficult but necessary decision," given the uncertainty that will be surrounding the June operating environment.
"We totally understand measures placed by the governments to protect borders. While the near-term outlook remains bleak, we remain flexible and will be ready to launch services as soon as practical," said Viljoen.
"Airlines around the world are adjusting schedules accordingly. We will continue to assess the situation and may reduce capacity further if required. The outlook remains bleak, and we are preparing for the worst while hoping for the best."
Fiji's Civil Aviation Minister Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum said earlier that Fiji Airways had to make tough decisions due to the reduced passenger numbers and global travel restrictions.
According to the minister, reduction in flights has resulted in the airline implementing Leave Without Pay of four weeks between April and June for all employees. All senior management are taking a 35 percent pay cut.
Viljoen said these are necessary measures to navigate through the crisis as global border control measures make it nearly impossible to continue scheduled operations.
He also announced that the airline will work with all staff and employee organisations, as the company re-assesses its manpower requirements in light of the suspension decision.
The decision to suspend all its international flights, part of the airline's efforts to deal with the COVID-19 impact, is the most stringent scale back in Fiji Airways' 68-year history. Enditem