Andre Viljoen – New CEO and Managing Director for Fiji Airways

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Fiji Airways has a new CEO and Managing Director – the current head of Air Mauritius, Andre Viljoen.

Viljoen’s appointment to the national airline was announced today by the Chairman of Fiji Airways, Nalin Patel. He will take up the position before 1 October 2015.

Viljoen has 33 years of professional experience in the airline and tourism industries and has been  the CEO of Air Mauritius since 2010.

Patel said the Fiji Airways board was extremely pleased that the company would be led by someone, who as CEO of Air Mauritius, had transformed that airline, restored it to profitability and attained the coveted Skytrax 4 Star rating for product and service.

“Andre is an experienced airline professional with a strong business and customer focus. We believe he is the perfect person to lead Fiji Airways and will have the full support of the board, together with our experienced management and team.”

Viljoen joins Fiji Airways after its recent transformation, including its rebranding from Air Pacific and a fleet upgrade, and at a stage when it is exploring further commercial opportunities, including new routes.

“I am very excited to be joining Fiji Airways, the leading airline in the South Pacific, and will continue to build on its strong brand and lead its dedicated team to even greater heights”, Viljoen said.

The Attorney General and Minister for Public Enterprises, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum, welcomed Viljoen’s appointment on behalf of the Fijian Government, the airline’s majority shareholder.

“I’m delighted that Fiji Airways has been able to attract yet another outstanding international airline executive to head our national carrier and fulfill our ambition to make it the world’s best boutique carrier. Andre has big shoes to fill in replacing Stefan Pichler – who produced a record financial result for Fiji Airways last year – but this is an outstanding choice and we look forward, under his leadership, to expanding the airline’s footprint into other international hubs”, Sayed-Khaiyum said.

Biography – Andre Viljoen

Andre Viljoen, born in South Africa, has 33 years of seasoned airline experience.  He holds an Honours Degree in Commerce and is a Chartered Accountant.

He started his airline career with Comair British Airways in South Africa in the 1980’s as Financial Manager and soon grew to the position of Group Financial and Commercial Director, which he held for more than 10 years.  He played an instrumental role in elevating Comair from a small regional airline to becoming South African Airways principal domestic competitor flying the British Airways brand.

He then went on in 1992 to join South African Express Airways, the largest regional airline in South Africa, as Chief Operating Officer.  He devised and led a turnaround program to restore the airline back to profitability and to expand its fleet to include regional jets.

In 1995, he joined South African Airways, South Africa’s National Airline, as Chief Financial Officer and took over as President and Chief Executive Officer in 2000 until 2005.  He implemented an aggressive transformation program known as “Perfecting the Basics” which restored the airline back to profitability by 2002.  The transformation program also earned the airline a Skytrax 4 Star Rating, as well as many travel awards such as ‘The Leading Airline to Africa’.

He then went on to join the tour operator group Cullinan Holdings as Chief Executive Officer from 2006. The group is well known for its travel brands Thomson Holidays, Thomson Tours and Pentravel.

In 2009, he joined Air Mauritius, Mauritius’ National Airline, initially as Chief Financial Officer and then from 2010 as Chief Executive Officer.  In 2012, he launched a successful turnaround program known as the “7 Step Recovery Plan”.  The plan was focused on re-balancing the company’s network, improving revenue management and commercial, as well as re-fleeting with new generation aircraft.  The plan restored the airline back to profitability by 2014 and it has ordered 6 Airbus A350-900 new generation aircraft to replace its aged fleet of Airbus A340-300’s. The service quality improvement program implemented as part of the 7 Step Recovery Plan has earned Air Mauritius the Skytrax 4 Star Rating, as well as the travel award of “Leading Airline to the Indian Ocean”.

SOURCE: MAI LIFE

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