There has been another coup in Fiji, this one involving the generals taking over ‘control’ of the national flag carrier Air Pacific, which is 46.3% owned by Qantas.

Qantas isn’t saying anything yet, but observers of the rather sorry saga of Air Pacific will be asking whether there is dancing on the table in the Qantas board room, as the Fijian carrier has failed to perform to its expectations for many years.

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Qantas has long persevered with a substantial investment in Air Pacific, and for frustratingly little to show for it, and has more recently sought to effectively address the Fiji market’s potential with Jetstar flights which have proved too successful against the Fijian carrier for Fiji’s military rulers.

The main result of the changes the regime announced this morning is to strip power and influence over Air Pacific by Qantas.  From now on, Qantas will be expected to sit up and shut up, and just go for the ride, which has already been second rate as an investment.

In a statement the Fiji government claims that Qantas since 1998 has exercised effective control over the carrier through super majority and veto rights.

It said the move would bring Air Pacific into step with international laws and practices.

The decree said that areas that included the appointment of the Chairman, Deputy Chairman, annual operating budget, any expenditures, new air routes, variations to schedules, management appointments and ‘others’ would all revert to the control of the regime.

“While Qantas currently has veto power over most areas of Air Pacific’s operations and business decisions, Qantas also competes directly against Air Pacific through its wholly-owned low-cost carrier subsidiary, Jetstar, which flies overseas visitors to Fiji from Sydney,” the statement said.

Qantas has been increasingly unhappy on the public record  with the situation at Air Pacific in recent years, and has actively sought to sell its equity in the carrier, which flies to Australia, the US, NZ and adjacent Pacific island states.

Air Pacific services appear to be operating normally today.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
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