Fiji Airways has opened a glitzy 'world class' business passenger lounge at Nadi International Airport, as it enjoys record profits.

Andre Vilijoen, managing director and chief executive of Fiji Airways, says the 887 sqm lounge was one of a kind.

Features include a creche with nannies for children, constellation star lighting, a live plant wall and spa facilities.

The opening of the lounge, which is also available to economy passengers for NZ$70, rounded off a "tremendous" year for the airline, Vilijoen said.


"We've had a tremendous year of successes and the missing piece was a world class lounge. We had a temporary lounge we were using up until today," he said.

"Air New Zealand in between bought a very new lounge [to Nadi] and we were quite envious, obviously, but we knew we were very busy with our own."

From concept to opening, the lounge which can accommodate up to 200 people, took 12 months to complete.

Vilijoen said he believed the lounge matched others worldwide.

"I love the feel, the colours, the warmth. It's not a stark modern all chrome and leather lounge - it's inviting," he said.

"Our premier guests are very important travellers and business people, and giving them a product like this that matches anything in the world is important for our competitive position."

In the last financial year Fiji Airways posted an annual record profit of more than F$84.5 million before tax, up from F$70.2m the previous year.

It posted group revenue of F$825.3m up from F$815.3m and has hit record profitability for three consecutive years.


Air New Zealand is Fiji Airways biggest competitor in New Zealand and played a large role in fundamentals of operations, Vilijoen said.

"A very significant number of our tourists [to Fiji] are from New Zealand and we have Air New Zealand as a very significant and respected competitor, and so we've had to up our game to make sure we are competitive."

Fiji Airways, formerly known as Air Pacific, began a transformation in 2012, adding a string of new aircraft to its fleet and new branding.

More than 120,000 Kiwis visit Fiji every year on average, with New Zealand tourist numbers second highest to Australia.

It now has a fleet of 15 aircraft and is set to take on two more, Vilijoen said.

"We've got five Boeing 737-MAX8s coming in 2018 and 2019 and that's revamping our entire narrow body short haul fleet, and then we've got two temporary aircraft coming in until we get new aircraft going forward," he said.

"We've got a steady growth target year on year which aligns with the tourism growth that the country is looking for so our long term plan is to ensure that we grow to deliver the connectivity for tourism."

Constellation lighting in Fiji Airway's new Premier Lounge. Photo / Aimee Shaw
Constellation lighting in Fiji Airway's new Premier Lounge. Photo / Aimee Shaw

Fiji Airways operates 15 flights from New Zealand weekly, from Auckland daily and Christchurch and Wellington three times per week.

There were no plans to increase the number of flights from New Zealand, he said.

Fiji attorney general and minister of civil aviation Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum said Fiji Airways valued quality over quantity.

"We are not necessarily going for higher volume, but we are going for sustained growth," Sayed-Khaiyum said.

"When you just focus on volumes it does not become sustainable and the product line needs to be robust enough to react to global changes."

Tourism accounts for 20 per cent of Fiji's GDP.

Nadi International Airport has been undergoing a series of upgrades which were important to the growth of Fiji and its tourism sector, he said.

"It gives a much more heightened presence in the market, it improves the experience of those using the airport.

"These things matter. If you're going for a holiday the last thing you want is to go through an airport which is not efficient or is not very celebrus to your holiday mood and doesn't necessarily have all of the amenities, so it improves as an overall country product."

Sayed-Khaiyum said Fiji Airways valued the New Zealand market.

"We have a lot of return Kiwis that come to Fiji, some of them come year out and a lot of our resorts get filled up during New Zealand school holidays, so [I hope] it resonates well with the New Zealand market," he said.

Fiji Airways would not disclose how much it spent on the new lounge.