29 Mar 2012

Interim Fiji government takes full control of Air Pacific from Qantas

9:12 am on 29 March 2012

The interim Fiji government has issued a decree giving it full control of the national carrier Air Pacific.

Fiji already owns a majority stake in the airline but the Attorney General and Minister for Civil Aviation Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum says despite that, Qantas, with just under 47 percent of the shares has maintained effective control since 1998.

He says, in a statement, that this gave Qantas veto power over most areas of Air Pacific's operations.

Mr Sayed-Khaiyum says the decree simply addresses control requirements and that it won't affect the ownership of Qantas' shares and doesn't amount to a nationalisation of the airline.

The statement says Qantas also competes directly against Air Pacific through its wholly-owned low cost subsidiary, Jetstar.

It says the Bainimarama Government has now corrected the activities of earlier Fiji governments which allowed foreign citizens to control Fiji's national airline.

Meanwhile, Qantas says it will assess the implications of the decision and determine what impact this has on their minority shareholding in the airline.

In a statement, the airline also adds it does not have veto power over Air Pacific's operational decisions and nor does it have effective control over Fiji's national carrier.

The airline went onto say, that despite claims by the interim government, it does not have effective control over the appointment of the Chairman, Deputy Chairman, annual operating budget, any expenditures, new air routes, variations to Air Service schedules, management appointments, employee incentive schemes including bonuses, and numerous other key areas of oversight, control and decision-making.