Australia and Fiji close the closure of a year-long trade, tourism gap

Written by Staff Writer, CNN Fiji is reopening on Monday, December 1 following almost a year in its second-largest economy banned from its airspace. The opening of a non-stop Qantas service from Sydney to…

Australia and Fiji close the closure of a year-long trade, tourism gap

Written by Staff Writer, CNN

Fiji is reopening on Monday, December 1 following almost a year in its second-largest economy banned from its airspace.

The opening of a non-stop Qantas service from Sydney to Suva followed the opening of Fiji Airways’ four-times-a-week domestic flight from Perth, Australia, to Fiji in early October.

That punctual, daily service has attracted hundreds of new passengers per week, according to Fiji Airways spokesman Sam Quinn.

“We were forced to abandon flights to Fiji nearly a year ago, so we’re pleased to see a comeback to this important market,” said Gerry Laderman, chief commercial officer of Australian Qantas Group, in a press release.

Australia ranks as Fiji’s second-largest commercial market, with Japan and the US ranking third and fourth respectively.

“Reopening Fiji as a viable non-stop for those Australians wanting to go there have been quick and effective,” Laderman said.

The flights are part of the return of regular flights between Fiji and Australia, which was suspended in February after Fiji took measures to stop passenger and freight shipments of live animals from there.

“(The resumption of) regular air links shows how tourism continues to play a vital role in Fiji’s economic growth,” Australian High Commissioner to Fiji Brian Quilty said in the press release.

While the resumption of flights to and from Fiji reflects both tourism and trade opportunities, former prime minister Frank Bainimarama’s re-election in August remains a major concern.

He took over as Fiji’s prime minister in 2014, but backed away from his pledge to hold elections on time last year, when his administration instead suspended upcoming elections, in line with customary practices.

The new Prime Minister, Sitiveni Rabuka, was prime minister from 1987 to 1990, while Fiji had a military coup led by Rear Admiral Frank Bainimarama in 2000.

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