|June 24, 2015|
Fiji Airways Appoints Andre Viljoen As CEO & Managing Director
|Fiji Airways has announced the appointment of a new CEO and Managing Director - the current head of Air Mauritius, Andrew Viljoen -- who will take up the position before October 1, 2015. Mr. Viljoen has 33 years of professional experience in the airline and tourism industries and has been the CEO of Air Mauritius since 2010. (see biography below)|
The Fiji Airways Board was extremely pleased that the Company would be led by someone, who as CEO of Air Mauritius, had transformed and restored the airline to profitability, while also having earned the coveted Skytrax 4 Star rating for product and service.
The Chairman of Fiji Airways, Mr. Nalin Patel announced the appointment, commenting, "Andre is an experienced airline professional with a strong business and customer focus. We believe he is the perfect person to lead Fiji Airways and will have the full support of the Board, together with our experienced management and team."
Mr. Viljoen joins Fiji Airways after its recent transformation, including its rebrand from Air Pacific and upgrade in fleet, and at a stage when it is exploring further commercial opportunities, including new routes.
"I am very excited to be joining Fiji Airways, the leading airline in the South Pacific, and will continue to build on its strong brand and lead its dedicated team to even greater heights", Mr. Viljoen said.
The Attorney General and Minister for Public Enterprises, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum, welcomed Mr. Viljoen"s appointment on behalf of the Fijian Government, the airline's majority shareholder.
"I'm delighted that Fiji Airways has been able to attract yet another outstanding international airline executive to head our national carrier and fulfil our ambition to make it the world's best boutique carrier. Andre has big shoes to fill in replacing Stefan Pichler -- who produced a record financial result for Fiji Airways last year -- but this is an outstanding choice and we look forward, under his leadership, to expanding the airline's footprint into other international hubs", Sayed-Khaiyum said.
Biography -- Andre Viljoen
Andre Viljoen, born in South Africa, has 33 years of seasoned airline experience. He holds an Honours Degree in Commerce and is a Chartered Accountant.
He started his airline career with Comair British Airways in South Africa in the 1980's as Financial Manager. He soon earned the position of Group Financial and Commercial Director, which he held for more than 10 years. He played an instrumental role in elevating Comair from a small regional airline to becoming South African Airways principal domestic competitor flying the British Airways brand.
In 1992, he then went on to join South African Express Airways, the largest regional airline in South Africa, as Chief Operating Officer. There he devised and led a turnaround program to restore the airline back to profitability and expand its fleet to include regional jets.
In 1995, he joined South African Airways, South Africa's National Airline, as Chief Financial Officer and took over as President and Chief Executive Officer in 2000 until 2005. He implemented an aggressive transformation program known as "Perfecting the Basics" which restored the airline back to profitability by 2002. The transformation program also earned the airline a Skytrax 4 Star Rating, as well as many travel awards such as "The Leading Airline to Africa".
He then went on to join the tour operator group Cullinan Holdings as Chief Executive Officer from 2006. The group is well known for its travel brands Thomson Holidays, Thomson Tours and Pentravel.
In 2009, he joined Air Mauritius, Mauritius' National Airline, initially as Chief Financial Officer and starting in 2010 as Chief Executive Officer. In 2012, he launched a successful turnaround program known as the "7 Step Recovery Plan". The plan was focused on re-balancing the company's network, improving revenue management and commercial, as well as re-fleeting with new generation aircraft. The plan restored the airline back to profitability by 2014 and it has ordered 6 Airbus A350-900 new generation aircraft to replace its aged fleet of Airbus A340-300's. The service quality improvement program implemented as part of the 7 Step Recovery Plan has earned Air Mauritius the Skytrax 4 Star Rating, as well as the travel award of "Leading Airline to the Indian Ocean".
Founded in 1951, Fiji Airways Group comprises of Fiji Airways, Fiji's National Airline and its subsidiaries: Fiji Link, its domestic and regional carrier, Pacific Call Comm Ltd, and a 38.75% stake in the Sofitel Fiji Resort & Spa on Denarau Island, Nadi. Fiji Airways aims to be the leading global boutique airline, and has a fleet of brand new wide body A330s and refreshed B737 aircrafts. Fiji Link has a fleet of ATR 72, ATR42 and DHC-6 Twin Otter aircraft.
From its hub at Nadi International Airport, Fiji Airways and Fiji Link serve 48 destinations in 12 countries (including code-share). Destinations include Australia, New Zealand, USA, Hong Kong, Samoa, Tonga, Tuvalu, Kiribati, Vanuatu and Solomon Islands. The Fiji Airways Group brings in 64 percent of all visitors who fly to Fiji, employs over 1000 employees, earn revenues of over FJD$769 million ($372m USD$), and directly contribute a significant portion of the country's Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Fiji Airways rebranded from Air Pacific in June 2013.