Qatar Airways became the second airline to serve Canberra’s fledgling international market when it commenced service on 12-Feb-2018. The new Qatar service will boost international traffic to Australia’s capital, but it may not be the only new service to launch in 2018.
Fiji Airways could be an intriguing option as the airline would be able to operate Nadi-Wellington-Canberra with narrowbody aircraft. Fiji Airways already serves Wellington year-round but with limited frequencies (one to two per week), as Nadi-Wellington is a relatively small and seasonal market. It does however offer an attraction for Wellington business class travellers to the US, as an option to flying via Auckland.
Fiji Airways network map for w/c 12-Feb-2018
Singapore Airlines plans to drop Canberra-Wellington, which it now operates with Boeing 777s, for Melbourne-Wellington at the end of Apr-2018 (See related articles: Singapore Airlines route changes for Wellington and Canberra). Air New Zealand only serves Nadi-Wellington on a seasonal basis for four months each year. A Nadi-Wellington-Canberra route could enable Fiji Airways to operate more frequencies to Wellington, pick up local traffic, and offer Canberra residents a new option for holidays in the Pacific.
Fiji Airways extended its codeshare with Qantas to Canberra in late 2017, but the current one-stop option via Sydney involves transferring between the domestic and international terminals. Fiji Airways is keen to expand in Australia, having added Adelaide as its fourth Australian destination in 2017, and Canberra is keen to attract more international airlines. Canberra-Nadi is not a large enough market to support a nonstop service, however considering that the Canberra-Wellington market will no longer have a nonstop option once Singapore Airlines exits, it could generate sufficient one-stop traffic to support a Canberra-Wellington-Nadi flight.
Australia-Fiji bilateral talks are scheduled for this year and there is a host of issues on the table.