Fiji Airways has appointed the current head of
Air Mauritius, Andre Viljoen, as CEO and Managing Director.
Viljoen will take up the position before 1 October 2015. Mr.
Viljoen has 33 years of professional experience in the airline and
tourism industries and has been the CEO of Air Mauritius since
Chairman of Fiji Airways, Mr. Nalin Patel, said, “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 rebranding from Air Pacific
and a fleet upgrade, 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 fulfill 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”, the AG said.
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
and soon grew to 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.
He then went on in 1992 to join South African
Express Airways, the largest regional airline in South Africa, as
Chief Operating Officer. He devised and led a turnaround program
to restore the airline back to profitability and to 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.
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 then
from 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
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