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David Pflieger and Pacific Air Limited: A Story of Success as Other Airlines Struggle

October 1, 2012

When David Pflieger joined Pacific Air Limited in Fiji in 2010 as Managing Director and CEO, the company was losing F$65 million per year. In only 11 months, he reduced operating losses by nearly F$90 million, with the airline earning a net profit of F$24 million. Pacific Air Limited owns Fiji’s national carrier, Pacific Air; and Pacific Sun, a regional subsidiary. David Pflieger downsized both airlines, restructuring their fleets and networks. He grounded BN-2 Islander aircraft and added A330-200, B737-800, and DH-6 Twin Otter aircraft by sourcing more than F$200 million Professional Development Plan funding.

In other turnaround efforts at Pacific Air, Mr. Pflieger rebuilt the management team and utilized his negotiating skills to restructure all contracts for management and union members. Despite a 28 percent increase in the cost of fuel, he devised and implemented the company’s first fuel-conservation program, cutting year-over-year fuel costs by 8 percent. Concentrating on improving reliability, the airline executive enhanced on-time performance by 15 percent, outshining major competitors Jetstar Airways Pty. Ltd. and Virgin Australia. Additionally, David Pflieger oversaw the seamless transition to a new reservations system, avoiding costly business interruption.

Perhaps most importantly, the seasoned airline-industry leader instituted programs and policies that dramatically raised the customer-satisfaction levels at Pacific Air and Sun Pacific, including employee training; a dedicated Guest Service Department; and an improvement in operations, call-center performance, and baggage handling. Today, while other airlines struggle to remain afloat, Pacific Air Ltd. supports more than 900 employees and 15 aircraft flying 1 million passengers each year. The company earns a gross annual revenue of F$580 million, approximately $280 million in U.S. dollars. Pflieger previously played key roles in the start-ups of award-winning airlines Virgin America and Delta-Song.

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