FIJI WELCOMES CONTINENTAL AIRLINE MERGER

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New access to U.S. market anticipated

By Samantha Rina SUVA, Fiji (Fiji Times, May 5, 2010) - The merger of Continental Airlines and United Airlines has a lot of potential for more visitors to Fiji once a clear strategy is rolled out on their focus, says Tourism Fiji chief executive officer Josefa Tuamoto.

He said the US, being the main passenger source for the merged airlines, would continue to be a key source market for Fiji in terms of revenue and yield.

"Key cities will be expanded beyond the traditional West Coast designated market areas of Los Angeles and San Francisco and reflect new hubs developed from the merger to include Cleveland, Chicago, Denver, Houston, Newark, New Jersey and Washington Dulles International Airport," he said.

"It also means additional airline partners to undertake co-operative marketing and stretch our very limited marketing funds.

"United is strong in the Pacific whereas Continental is strong in Europe and Latin America so there will be an advantage in terms of reaching the international traveler in the market in terms of database marketing, frequent flyer programs."

Mr. Tuamoto said US$1.4 million had been allocated for marketing in the US including Canada and South America.

On whether more seats meant more tourists, Tuamoto said Australia was a classic example of this and that inversely, the same was true as was the case in Japan and Canada.

He said US traffic dropped in 2009 due to the global financial crisis primarily which had resulted in a decrease across all major outbound markets.

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