Fiji Airways recently converted a Fiji Link ATR
72-600 aircraft into a freighter configuration so that it could be
used to carry cargo to Port Villa.
This is the first time the airline has
reconfigured its ATR aircraft for freight operations.
freighter service carried 3.8 tonnes of cargo from Nadi to Port
Vila and 1.9 tonnes on the return sector.
freight included medical supplies, while the inbound carried a
number of consolidated items, including coffee and mail.
Mr 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.
“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,” Mr. Viljoen
Fiji Airways will now switch the ATR
72-600 aircraft between passenger and freight-only operations as
required. A second cargo flight, this time to Nuku’alofa, Tonga,
is already scheduled to take place this week.