This is the first time the airline has reconfigured its ATR aircraft for freight operations. The freighter service carried 3.8 tonnes of cargo from Nadi to Port Vila and 1.9 tonnes on the return sector on Sunday. Outbound freight included medical supplies, while the outbound carried a number of consolidated items, including coffee and mail.
Andre Viljoen, Fiji Airways Managing Director and CEO said: “We remain committed to operating freight services to maintain essential supply lines between Fiji and its key markets, and have been exploring ways to similarly assist our regional neighbours. We recognise the leading role Fiji Airways plays in travel and trade for the entire region. With the approval of aircraft manufacturer ATR, our regulator CAAF as well as the relevant governments, we were able to reconfigure and operate our first ATR freighter to Port Vila.”
The reconfiguration included removal of all passenger seats from the aircraft, and was done in line with manufacturer specifications by Fiji Airways’ Engineering at the airline’s Hangar facilities in Nadi.
Mr. Viljoen added: “A converted ATR 72-600 freighter allows for carriage of up to 8 tonnes of cargo, while a normal passenger ATR can only cater for up to 1.7 tonnes. Our converted ATR freighter service is ideal for Pacific Island countries, given the demand and operating conditions in region.”
Another ATR freighter service is scheduled for Nuku’alofa, Tonga this week. Fiji Airways will switch the ATR 72-600 aircraft between passenger and freight-only operations as required.