FIJI SAYS NO TO FOREIGN AIRLINE GROUND CREWS

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Government owns 51 percent of ground handling service

By Mereseini Marau SUVA, Fiji (Fiji Times, Dec. 29, 2009) - TWO international airlines that have expressed interest in flying to Fiji want to provide their own ground-handling companies. But the State will safeguard the interest of main ground handling company Air Terminal Services (ATS) in which it owns 51 per cent of shares.

The State also owns a 51 per cent interest in Air Pacific.

Civil Aviation director Akuila Waradi said Jetstar and Emirates had sought approval from his department to use their own ground-handling companies.

Mr. Waradi said ATS and now Air Pacific provided these services at the Nadi International Airport. He said they would make a decision to protect both companies.

"The business is not that big to accommodate more than one company," he said.

He said those airlines had so much money they could invest in those companies, which could cripple ATS.

"If those overseas companies are to come in, it will affect the operations of ATS."

Mr. Waradi said there was not much to justify the entry of those companies.

Mr. Waradi had earlier assured ATS that no overseas companies would be set up in Fiji in the near future.

ATS acting chief executive officer Sailosi Soqo said that they were aware about two overseas ground handlers were interested in setting up in Fiji. "But we were told that they have not done any paper work or given license to operate here."

He said that they were open to competition. "We are taking these things very seriously by upgrading our services and performance."

Mr. Soqo said they were not complacent and were trying their best to provide the best service in the world.

He said the company was providing ground handling service to about 400 flights a month. He said that 50 per cent of the flights were Air Pacific's.

"We also service eight scheduled flights and the rest are ad hoc which includes private jets."

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