Learn ‘from past attempts’

A Fiji Airways flight takes off at Nadi International Airport. Picture: BALJEET SINGH/FILE

Fiji Labour Party leader Mahendra Chaudhry has labelled the Tuesday promotional Fiji Airways flight to Vancouver, Canada, led by Attorney-General and Economy Minister Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum as “irresponsible”.

He also said the promo flight raised a lot of questions.

“Firstly, it is irresponsible of him to be organising such junkets to push the national airline’s sagging finances into further doldrums,” the former prime minister said.

“The trip is labelled as promoting Fiji as a tourism destination prior to the commencement of direct flights to Canada, beginning November.

“If that is so, then it is obviously of questionable value as Canadians make up less than one per cent of tourists to Fiji, including Fijians who now reside in Canada.”

Mr Chaudhry said the A-G and the airline should have learnt something from past attempts to attract visitors from Canada.

“An earlier attempt by the airline to establish this route was abandoned after sustaining losses.

“Again, if it has to do with tourism then why is the expedition led by the Economy Minister and not Tourism Minister Faiyaz Koya?

“More importantly, why has it been organised at public expense at a time when thousands of our poor and marginalised people are being declined state assistance in providing for their basic needs of food, shelter and clothing?”

Prior to departing on the Tuesday flight to Vancouver along with Tourism Fiji CEO Brent Hill, Fiji Airports chairman Hasmukh Patel, Fiji Airways managing director and CEO Andre Viljoen and others, Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said any new destination Fiji Airways flew to was “exciting” and a lot of work had to be carried out in terms of the viability of the particular new route.

He said a $3 million allocation in the 2022-2023 budget would give the airline the ability to market a lot better in the east coast and north west Canada.

  • Questions sent to Mr Sayed-Khaiyum and Fiji Airways on the comments made by Mr Chaudhry remain unanswered when this edition went to press.

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