Nadi International Airport handles 98% of all international visitors to Fiji. But the airport operator does more than manage this vital gateway: it provides a base for developing skills to the local population across a wide range of aviation-related activities.
Airports Fiji Limited (AFL) also looks after air traffic management (ATM) services in the Nadi Flight Information Region (FIR), which includes the air spaces of Fiji, Tuvalu, New Caledonia, Kiribati and Vanuatu, covering an area of six million square kilometres, Nausori International Airport and the 13 other outer-island airports.
AFL employs 465 personnel across its 15 airports, which have a total asset base of $177 million. Its growing workforce has a range of skill sets from operational and technical support to commercial management and administration. The AFL Aviation Academy offers training programmes to meet local and regional airport market needs in areas such as ATM, aviation security, fire-fighting and rescue services.
Aviation is essential to the economic security of the islands. Domestic airports play a crucial role in the development of Fiji’s regional economies, especially in the transport of tourists between the islands. Tourism by air accounts for around 25% of the islands’ total GDP, worth $770 million in 2009. Aviation supports a total of 66,000 jobs in the islands, out of a total workforce of around 350,000.
Over the last five years, AFL has invested over $42 million in expanding and upgrading airports and related systems to international standards, pioneering new technologies such as automatic dependent surveillance broadcasts, which allow aircraft to be managed by controllers over great distances, far beyond the range of conventional radar.
The airport operator provides incentives in the form of financial incentives for its workforce to participate in tertiary education, to improve skills further.