Fiji Airways has completed its special flight celebrating Fiji’s 50th year of independence with a flight to nowhere using an Airbus A350-900XWB. The aircraft flew a commemorative flight path drawing out the number “50.”
Fiji Airways used one of its two A350s for this commemorative flight. Photo: Airbus
The special flight
Fiji Airways’ flight 50 took off and landed at Nadi International Airport (NAN) on October 10th, commemorating the 50th anniversary of the airline’s home country’s independence. As the flag carrier of Fiji, it is no surprise that the airline operated this flight to nowhere using a flagship A350.
FJ50 was a flight to nowhere that performed scenic flybys. The flight performed a low flyover around Suva’s Albert Park and some other scenic destinations in the country. Fijians celebrating Fiji Day at Suva’s Albert Park were able to see the A350 flying past during the official ceremony.
Of course, the most iconic thing about the flight was its flight path, which drew out the number 50 over the island country. The airline received permission from the Civil Aviation Authority of Fiji (CAAF), and senior personnel were present onboard the aircraft for observation.
The flight path of the Airbus A350. Photo: Fiji Airways
A limited number of seats were made available for sale on the aircraft. There were 66 passengers onboard the airline’s A350-900XWB. All proceeds were channeled to the Fiji Cancer Society (FCS) to fight against cancer. In total, the flight collected over FJ$15,000, or around US$7,000.
The passengers were treated to a unique experience. The passengers enjoyed breakfast at the Fiji Airways Premier Lounge before boarding the flight. There, Fiji Airways Managing Director and CEO, Andrew Viljoen, stated to the passengers:
“Our Airbus A350, which is our newest aircraft has been in our COVID-19 short-term ‘ready for flight’ storage programme. The programme requires periodic planned flights to ensure the aircraft is ready to return to commercial service rapidly when required.”
Onboard, passengers on the flight received a commemorative boarding pass souvenir. This had details of the flight and was given to passengers before the flight concluded.
The A350s are the newest widebodies in Fiji Airways’ fleet. Photo: Getty Images
Getting the aircraft prepared for commercial flight
Fiji Airways is looking forward to the day when the airline may be able to fly passengers to and from the island. Although, the carrier does also hope to build up a small connecting hub at Nadi.
As such, this aircraft is part of the airline’s ‘ready for flight’ short-term storage program. Instead of entering deep long-term storage, the aircraft flies periodically to ensure it is capable and prepared for flights. Reentering an aircraft in long-term storage means an airline has to invest in maintaining a parked jet, sometimes far away from home through a third-party provider, or else close by.
Fiji Airways has two Airbus A350s. Photo: Airbus
Keeping an aircraft in short-term storage indicates that the airline believes the plane could be flying soon but is not necessarily needed at this moment.
The jet used in this flight is registered as DQ-FAJ and is one of two A350s the airline flies. The carrier has the plane configured in a two-class configuration with 33 lie-flat business class seats in a reverse herringbone configuration and 301 economy class seats.
Fiji Airways also operates six Airbus A330 aircraft, but the A350s were to fly the carrier’s most prestigious routes to Los Angeles and Sydney. However, after a few months of operations, Fiji Airways had to cease those routes amid an unprecedented global crisis.
Were you onboard this flight? What was the experience like? What do you make of this Fiji Airways special flight? Let us know in the comments!