Potential Tahiti-based startup FLY CORALway is eyeing a network within six hours flying time of Faa’a International Airport. Depending on what type of aircraft FLY CORALway acquires, it gives the airline a range of options.
Olivier Moana Bôle eyes Honolulu
FLY CORALway’s Chief Executive Officer, Olivier Moana Bôle, recently told Simple Flying’s Future Flying Forum there’s a need for a truly South Pacific regional airline – one that will fly from hub to hub and connect the various South Pacific communities.
He’s eyeing destinations with already respectable levels of long-haul flying and connectivity – such as Nadi and Honolulu – and operating feeder flights into those destinations. Olivier Moana Bôle says there’s enormous untapped potential in Honolulu, given the amount of Japanese who usually fly there.
He notes there is only one weekly flight from Hawaii into French Tahiti. The FLY CORALway CEO has a point – Tahiti is a spectacular part of the world. Islands like Bora Bora are on the bucket lists of most travelers. If you’ve made it all the way to Honolulu, how hard is it to lure you onto another sub-six-hour flight down to Tahiti? Mr Bôle may soon find out.
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FLY CORALway keen to tap travelers flying into Nadi
Another regional destination Olivier Moana Bôle likes is Nadi. Fiji’s main airport doesn’t boast the connectivity of Honolulu. However, Nadi is still a key airport in that part of the world. Fiji’s flag carrier normally boasts flights from North America, Singapore, Hong Kong, Australia, and New Zealand. Flying time between Faa’a International Airport and Nadi is just under five hours.
“We don’t have any existing routes between French Polynesia (Tahiti) and Fiji,” says Mr Bôle. “The real interest, and we’ve discussed this with Fiji Airways, is to connect via Nadi with the Fiji Airways flights to Singapore and Hong Kong and catch part of the Chinese-Asian markets.”
The South Pacific comprises a series of thinly populated islands a long way from each other. The biggest cities like Pape’ete and Suva only have metro populations of 26,000 and 94,000, respectively. Average incomes are relatively low, and airline operating costs are high.
There’s a need for regional connectivity, but it is a tough market for any airline, especially a thinly resourced startup. Consequently, there usually is some but not a lot of direct flying between the South Pacific’s larger cities.
FLY CORALway’s model of flying these routes but relying on feeder traffic from larger regional airports is clever. But it depends on a few factors, including normal tourist traffic flows resuming, those travelers or their agents being aware of FLY CORALway, and those same travelers willing to go the extra mile and take a connecting flight to Tahiti.
FLY CORALway’s plan is to develop new routes rather than compete on existing contested routes
Olivier Moana Bôle also likes New Caledonia, a five-and-a-half-hour flight away. Along with French Polynesia, New Caledonia is one of three French South Pacific territories (the third is Wallis and Futuna Islands). Like Honolulu, New Caledonia’s La Tontouta International Airport offers decent connectivity into Japan, with Aircalin usually flying to Osaka and Tokyo. Aircalin also normally scoots across to Tahiti.
New Zealand is also safely within Mr Bôle’s six-hour flying range but is already typically well serviced by regular Air New Zealand flights. Olivier Moana Bôle isn’t sure about the viability of taking on one of the region’s airline goliaths.
“The real intention is just to develop routes where we’ve got very limited flights or to create new routes,” he says. “The tourists are coming to French Polynesia, spending their holidays between the different islands in French Polynesia, and going back home – we have no possibility, except via Auckland, to fly within the region. So, the real interest is to open a separate tourism sector to allow the tourists to visit different islands.
“Having air services in place between the different countries, and increasing the number of seats available is crucial for tourism development.”
But there is a way to go before any flights take off. FLY CORALway is still awaiting its air operator’s certificate and first planes.