Why Fiji Airways Chose Vancouver As Its Next North American Route

In an exciting development, Fiji Airways has announced Nadi to Vancouver. It comes soon after the South Pacific carrier said it would be beginning new services, although it didn’t reveal particulars. It will be the first time Vancouver has had non-stop service to Fiji, but it comes 14 years after it had one-stop flights using B737s.

Fiji Airways to Vancouver

Fiji Airways will take off to Vancouver – its only Canada route – on November 25th (although it’ll have a one-off in early August). With flights on Mondays and Fridays, the long, 5,866-mile (9,440km) airport pair has the following schedule, with all times local. 273-seat A330-200s will be used. These have 24 non-fully flat business class seats and 249 economy class seats.

  • Nadi to Vancouver: FJ880, 22:15-13:20 same day arrival (block time of 11h 55m)
  • Vancouver to Nadi: FJ881, 21:40-05:30+2 (11h 50m)

While Fiji Airways will operate non-stop, Cirium shows that it ran via Honolulu until November 2008 using B737-800s (!). It is equivalent in total distance to London Heathrow-Halifax-Los Angeles. Image: GCMap.

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Vancouver versus Seattle

It follows the announcement that Air Tahiti Nui will begin Papeete to Seattle. Fiji Airways has a partnership with Alaska Mileage Plan, so it is somewhat curious that it chose Vancouver rather than Seattle. After all, they could drive traffic over the Washington State airport. But it’s not too hard to understand why they chose Vancouver.

In 2019, three times as many people flew from Vancouver to Fiji as from Seattle, including tourists and a good amount of Fijian diaspora (estimated to be 80,000 in Canada). The route is also timed for transit passengers: Vancouver to/from Australia and New Zealand and particular South Pacific destinations.

Booking data shows that, in 2019, around 200,000 more people flew between Vancouver and these places than Seattle. It is a much bigger market to tap, albeit partly because of Air Canada non-stop to Australia and New Zealand. It has just resumed Brisbane. Even if Air Canada’s non-stop passengers are stripped out, Vancouver was still larger.

As the A350-900 is mainly used to Los Angeles, the type, with a better business class, is Fiji Airways’ leading aircraft to North America. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying.

Its fourth North American route

In the week that Vancouver begins, Fiji Airways will have 13 flights to four North American destinations, as summarized below. It’ll be its most non-stop flights consistently.

  1. Nadi-Honolulu: 1x weekly; B737 MAX 8
  2. Nadi-Los Angeles: 1x daily; variously A330-200, A330-300, A350-900, but mainly the A350
  3. Nadi-San Francisco: 3x weekly; A330-200, A330-300
  4. Nadi-Vancouver: 2x weekly; A330-200

Los Angeles is Fiji Airways’ most-served North American destination. Photo: Vicenzo Pace I Simple Flying.

Vancouver is on a roll

Nadi is the latest long-haul destination from Vancouver. It joins Air Canada to Bangkok (starting December 1st), which builds on Singapore Airlines from Singapore (joined with Seattle from December 2021; fully standalone from June 2nd, 2022) and Turkish Airlines from Istanbul (May 2nd, 2021).

Other international routes in 2022 include Flair to San Francisco (May 19th), JetBlue from New York JFK (June 9th), Air Canada Austin (June 1st), and Sun Country Minneapolis (June 15th). Later this year, Flair will begin Los Cabos (from November 1st) and Puerto Vallarta (November 12th).

What do you make of Fiji Airways’ route announcement? Where do you think it should aim for next? And what other international routes would you like to see from Vancouver? Let us know in the comments.

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