Named by U.S. News and World Report as among the top 10 islands in the world for vacation travel, Fiji consists of more than 300 tropical-climate islands in the South Pacific. Its sandy beaches, surrounded by deep turquoise waves, have attracted legions of romantic adventurers looking for seclusion. Underwater sports enthusiasts will also find much to love: Often called the world’s soft-coral capital, the waters around Fiji are home to intricate reefs that have achieved fame among divers and snorkelers.
Early in 2016, Cyclone Winston struck Fiji. While the storm was the most powerful to ever hit the islands, the country and its tourism industry quickly rebounded from the devastation it produced. Tourism is Fiji’s most rapidly growing industry. In fact, an estimated 45,000 individuals in Fiji hold jobs associated with tourism.
In 2015, more than 750,000 people visited Fiji. In a typical year, about 80 percent of all visitors to the islands are there as vacationers. Most of Fiji’s tourists come from Australia, New Zealand, and North America, followed by China, Europe, the United Kingdom, and South Korea. A recent focus on investments in Fiji’s tourism industry, as well as cooperation among a variety of stakeholders, continue to drive the numbers higher, officials say.
On October 1, 2014, successful aviation business leader David Pflieger was hired by Mr. Larry Ellison, the founder of Oracle, as a direct report to assume the roles of President and Chief Executive Officer at Island Air, an inter-island airline wholly owned by Ellison that operated throughout Hawaii. In addition to these positions, Mr. Pflieger accepted a seat on the company’s board of directors.
Prior to joining Island Air, David Pflieger demonstrated his business acumen with multiple successful airline turnarounds. He served as the President and CEO of Silver Airways in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, after spending three years as the Managing Director and CEO of Fiji Airways, where he led an extensive turnaround and rebranding effort that transformed the company from a financially struggling airline to a prosperous international carrier honored multiple times by Condé Nast Traveler. Prior to his work in Fiji, Mr. Pflieger was a founding officer at Virgin America in San Francisco.
At Island Air, Dave Pflieger joined a company with a long history of service to Hawaiian communities. The firm began as a two-plane service under the name Princeville Airways in 1980, providing flights between Honolulu and Kauai. By 1987, the company had expanded its fleet to eight aircraft and assumed the name Aloha Island Air after its acquisition by Aloha Air Group. The airline received its FAA certification to operate large aircraft in 1995 and became an independent carrier soon after, passing into the ownership of Gavarnie Holding, LLC.
Following its successful turnaround in just 14 months by Mr. Pflieger, Island Air was sold to PacifiCap, LLC, the largest venture capital firm in Hawaii, and it continues to operate daily flights between Lihue, Kahului, Kona, and Honolulu. The airline also continues to support the broader Hawaiian community through a robust corporate responsibility program benefiting organizations such as the University of Hawaii and Best Buddies Hawaii, as well as the Explorers Program, a hands-on educational experience for young, aspiring aviation professionals.
About David Pflieger
David Pflieger - Senior Airline Executive