The Fiji Airways Group recorded a steady revenue growth of F$90.7 million (US$42 million) – totalling just over F$1 billion – and pre-tax profits of $55 million for the financial year ending 31 December, 2018.
Profits were down 42 per cent on the previous financial Year, as a result of rising fuel prices, unfavourable currency fluctuations and major fleet and infrastructure investments.
In 2018, Fiji Airways added three brand new Twin Otter aircraft and a Boeing 737 MAX 8 to its fleet. It also opened a new route on its network, flying three times a week between Narita, Tokyo and Nadi, Fiji. Fiji Airways flew 1.7 million passengers during 2018.
The airline also joined global airline alliance oneworld as its first ever oneworld connect member. Similarly, it signed new, and strengthened existing codeshare relationships with partners including; Alaska Airlines, British Airways, Singapore Airlines and SilkAir.
Despite a raft of initiatives including a record-high revenue figure, one of the biggest factors impacting the financial performance of Fiji Airways Group – in particular its pre-tax profits – was the rising cost of fuel, which increased 28 per cent compared to fuel price in the same period the previous year.
Fiji Airways managing director & CEO, Andre Viljoen said: “2018 was characterised by significant highs and lows. We grew revenue by 10%, crossing F$1 billion in total revenue and carried 7% more passengers, but this was offset by increased costs.
“Fuel price increases alone accounted for F$31.5 million being taken off our targeted bottom line, while unfavourable foreign exchange variations added another negative impact of $8.2 million. Our network and fleet size grew, which means our manpower requirements grew as well, contributing to increased cost.
“Despite these and other industry wide challenges, our team responded by diligently managing cost where possible and continuing with our infrastructure and fleet investment strategy.
Viljoen added: “The outlook for 2019 remains challenging. We are set to add two brand new widebody aircraft to our fleet, increasing seat capacity which in turn means more visitors, ultimately benefiting the Fijian economy.
“Fuel price is expected to negatively impact us in 2019 by F$40 million, hence the need to invest in modern, fuel efficient aircraft that aligns with our commitment to providing a world-class travel experience.”
“Our team stands ready to navigate these challenges, maintaining sound fiscal discipline and a relentless focus on customer experience.
“2019 will also see the commencement of a number of sustainability initiatives, as we place strong emphasis on removing plastic and reducing waste where possible. One of our upcoming initiatives will see us remove two tonnes of plastic from our aircraft a year, and save up to half a million litres of water annually.”