Fiji Airways taking over the day-to-day operations of Fiji Airports Ltd is a huge conflict of interest, says Association of the South Pacific Airlines CEO George Faktaufon.
He said the burning question would be — how neutral would Fiji Airways be when dealing with other airlines — as they were now a customer at the airport, as well as the manager.
“They are now an operator and also an airline, Fiji Airways is also a customer of Fiji Airports,” Mr Faktaufon said.
He said his comments were based on a press release by both Fiji Airports Ltd chairman Hasmukh Patel and managing director and CEO of Fiji Airways Andre Viljoen and also the announcement by the Attorney-General (AG) and Minister Responsible for Civil Aviation Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum during the 2022-2023 National Budget announcement last Friday.
The AG said they had identified Fiji Airways “as a national partner to manage Fiji Airports’ operations”.
He said the “administrative change will not affect their business, mission, board of directors, governance structure, compliance or staff of Fiji Airports”.
Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said the airline would simply be responsible for the day-to-day operations of the airports “from baggage handling to gate management, retail experience and other service known by the public, unseen by the public also in the industry as below the wing”.
Mr Faktaufon said other airlines would be concerned as “they’ll be wondering what is happening. We already have issues with Fiji Airports in negotiating fees and charges that were unjustified over the years and now we are having to deal with Fiji Airways, a commercial airline as well as the manager of the airport, so that’s a complete conflict of interest”.