Fiji Airways has opted for five Boeing 737 MAX 8 planes to replace its existing narrow-body fleet.

The airline currently operates five earlier model Boeing 737s on its short and medium-haul network to destinations including New Zealand, Australia, Hawaii, Kiribati, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga and Vanuatu.

The first two of the five new B737 MAX 8 aircraft will arrive in 2018, and the remaining three will arrive the following year.

The announcement today was made jointly in the Fijian capital, Suva, by Fiji Airways and the Fijian Government - the airline's majority shareholder.


Fiji Airways managing director and chief executive Andre Viljoen said the improved operating economics and product enhancements were "compelling reasons" to consider renewing the current Boeing 737 aircraft.

It was a major capital decision and the airline had achieved a ground-breaking package deal, Viljoen said.

The deal secured with Boeing, leasing company GE Capital Aviation Services and engine manufacturers CFM International included a 12-year sale and leaseback financing arrangement.

The aircraft have 170 seats and will have a two-class configuration - business and economy.

The new planes would have less cabin noise, enhanced interiors, better lighting and more overhead cabin space.

Fiji Attorney General and Minister for Civil Aviation Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum said the relationship with Boeing also meant that Fiji Airways would be able to set up a flight simulator school and related aircraft training and specialisation in Fiji.

"This will not only save us considerable expense in the training of our pilots but establish Fiji as a regional aviation training hub," Sayed-Khaiyum said.

Since 2013, Fiji Airways has upgraded its fleet with three new A330-200s and one A330-300 aircraft.