Fiji to maintain control of national airline: Sayed-Khaiyum - Solomon Star News

Fiji to maintain control of national airline: Sayed-Khaiyum

16 February 2015

FBC NEWS - Fiji’s Civil Aviation Minister Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum says it’s important to maintain control over Fiji Airways and not allow veto rights to shareholder Qantas.

The Australian airline has forty six percent shares in Fiji Airways but lost control over operational matters following the National Airlines Decree in 2012.

The relationship between the government and Qantas has been fragile since 2012. The Minister explained in parliament the need for control.

“I would like to clearly state that they still hold 46% of Fiji Airways shares an issue that we need to deal with in time to come but the fact is this madam speaker as a country that relies on tourism that we have a national airline that we have control of it is a matter of national interest we can’t be subject to the commercial interest of a foreign airline alone.”

Qantas had previously showed interest in selling its shares but wasn’t able to agree on a price with the government.

Relations deteriorated further when the airlines veto rights over the then Air Pacific were taken away.

“As a minority shareholder these should have never been granted in the first place by the SVT government and that is why the Fiji First government is committed to ensuring the viability and success of Fiji Airways”.

Sayed-Khaiyum remarks drew criticism from Opposition Member Dr Biman Prasad.

“Not saying to an old recognized partner from where we get majority of our tourists that we don’t need them just save the company let’s get our logic right how we want to make Fiji right as a competitive destination in the world,” said Biman.

Qantas withdrew its four board members from Fiji.