Fiji Airways has decided against plans to order Airbus A330neos, instead opting to add two A350s while keeping its A330ceos longer.

The airline was previously attempting to sell its six A330-200s and -300s, purchasing A330neos to replace them, Fiji Airways CEO Andre Viljoen told ATW June 2 on the sidelines of the IATA AGM in Seoul. Viljoen said the carrier was looking in 2018 to order up to eight widebodies. Boeing 787-9s had also been considered.

However, after “months and months” of talks with multiple parties, the airline “just couldn’t get the right deal” for disposing of its A330s and ordering the neo version, Viljoen said. So the carrier decided it made more economic sense to keep the A330ceos. It has also decided to introduce two A350s, and these are scheduled to join the fleet in November and December. They will be used on flights between the airline’s Nandi, Fiji hub and Sydney and Los Angeles. This will allow more passenger and cargo capacity on these routes. If two more widebodies are ordered, this would allow the A350s to be used to develop other markets including the possibility of flying “deeper in the US,” Viljoen said.

Before that, the introduction of the two A350s will give Fiji Airways some excess A330 capacity that could potentially be used to open new routes, said Viljoen. The carrier is looking at some “emerging markets” as possibilities.

The arrival of the A350s also helps cover the grounding of the airline’s Boeing 737 MAX aircraft. Fiji Airways had taken delivery of two MAXs before the grounding, with three remaining on order. One of the grounded MAXs had been replaced with a short-term leased 737-800. The carrier has been able to “cover most of the schedule” in the absence of the MAXs, although some frequencies had to be reduced, Viljoen said.

Adrian Schofield, adrian.schofield@informa.com