‘Fiji Airways must be accountable’

Unity Fiji party leader and former Reserve Bank Governor Savenaca Narube. Picture: File/ JOVESA NAISUA

Fiji Airways must be accountable for past decisions and bear some of the burden for the crisis the airline is in, says Unity Fiji party leader Savenaca Narube.

The former Reserve Bank governor said Fiji must also be realistic because the economic crisis facing the country was the result of a health issue that would not be resolved until a vaccine was found and widely distributed.

“What are its options,” he asked.

“The airline says that it cannot return aircraft because of its legal contractual obligations.

“If we take this at face value, what other options are opened to it. One of these options is for a bailout by shareholders.

“Government has already done this to the tune of $400 million.

“This is obviously not enough.”

Mr Narube said assuming it could take two years for the COVID-19 crisis to abate, Government was “looking at a huge sum of money to bail out Fiji Airways” and it was “very unlikely” other shareholders “would have any appetite” to bail the airline out.

“Does the Fiji Government have enough room to single-handedly bail Fiji Airways out.

“The answer is a resounding no.

“The Government had just eliminated this room in this budget by irresponsibly giving away taxes when revenue was already free falling and then borrowing $2 billion to plug that hole.

“Therefore, the only possible solution is for Fiji Airways to take some hard decisions.

“We are not told if it had considered all the options.

“What about selling other assets.

“The only way that Government can help is to sell its own assets and transfer the proceeds to Fiji Airways as a long-term convertible loan.”

Fiji Airways said the airline was “unable to respond to political statements”.

Questions sent to Attorney-General and Economy Minister Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum on Tuesday and yesterday, remained unanswered.

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