FIJI : Exporters concerned about capacity downgrade
Fiji’s perishable and garment exporters are concerned about planned capacity cuts to the vital Australia and New Zealand markets by national carrier Air Pacific. The exporters also complain that they were not consulted by the carrier which recently announced it would reduce its wide-body B747 flights to Sydney from seven to three per week from January 2012. The reduction is a result of the carrier taking on new B737-800 aircraft which it will be putting on the route. Perishable exporters note that due to the nature of perishable fruits and vegetables, they have to be packed under stringent biosecurity protocols in air freight containers which are available in B747 and B767 aircraft. These products cannot be sent as loose cargo – which is how cargo is freighted on the new B737-800 aircraft. Breaking up exports into smaller, loose cargo shipments also exposes the fruit and vegetables to potential damage. Fiji’s Minister for Trade and Industry, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum has said he will meet with exporters to address the air cargo capacity issue.