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The Fiji government has given approval for Australian-based budget airline Pacific Blue to launch flights to the South Pacific tourist destination.
Pacific Blue, a subsidiary of Australian budget carrier Virgin Blue, plans to operate three flights per week from both Brisbane and Melbourne to Fiji starting in September, and flights to Sydney starting in September 2005, Transportation Minister Josefa Vosanibola said.
Vosanibola said the flights had the full support of the Tourism Ministry, Fiji Visitors' Bureau and the Fiji Hotel Association.
"They feel that tourism will grow and a low-cost carrier's entry will tap into the low-budget travelling market, thus benefiting the local tourism industry," he said in a statement.
Services between Fiji and Australia currently are monopolised by Fiji's national carrier Air Pacific, which is 51 per cent owned by the government and 46 per cent by Qantas, Australia's national carrier.
In April, Air Pacific announced fare cuts averaging 30 per cent from May 1 for its Australia and New Zealand flights in response to low-cost competition from two New Zealand airlines and impending competition from Pacific Blue.
Fiji hosted a record 430,800 tourists in 2003. Latest figures show visitor arrivals in the first three months of 2004 were up 22 per cent compared with the same period in 2003.
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