Before starting work for the World Bank in 2016, David (Dave) Pflieger served as the president, CEO, and member of the board for Hawaii Island Air in Honolulu. His accomplishments prior to that included being a founding officer of the highly successful Virgin America and leading a dramatic and highly successful restructuring and rebranding of Air Pacific into Fiji Airways. Passionate about sustainability and corporate responsibility, David Pflieger created Virgin America’s entire corporate sustainability program, and in Fiji he led Fiji Airways to support Fiji’s communities by financing the island's first wellness clinic focused on preventative medicine.
Fiji Airways partnered with Dr. Zen Low and his well-respected Medical Center to create the first-ever Health and Wellness clinic in the country. To this day, the clinic still focuses on common health problems in the community, including heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, and diabetes. Many Fijians in their 30s and 40s suffer from heart attacks and strokes, and about four of every 10 adults on the island has diabetes.
Detecting these issues before they cause irreparable harm is key for preventing early death. It is for that reason that the Fiji Airways clinic offers free screenings with a doctor's referral to help patients find prevention strategies and alternate lifestyle choices that can prolong their life and well-being and allow them to beat the premature death norms that are so prevalent in Fiji.
As a well-known and respected senior executive in the airline industry, David “Dave” Pflieger most recently assisted in the successful restructuring, turnaround, and sale of Larry Ellison’s airline, Hawaii Island Air, where Dave was president and CEO of the company.
Earlier in his career, Dave was a founding officer at Virgin America Airlines where he was instrumental in taking it from a start-up to a flourishing and award-winning airline. During his time at Virgin, David Pflieger also helped Virgin America become the first company of its kind to join The Climate Registry (TCR).
TCR is working towards a greener future for our planet by streamlining the process of greenhouse gas (GHG) reporting for organizations in both the United States and Canada. Companies which add their names to the registry join more than 1,000 other members who are looking to minimize their carbon footprints and help put an end to global warming. All TCR members gain access to the organization’s GHG reporting platform, which they can use to measure and announce the emissions that they produce in any given year. Available through the cloud, this platform also allows them to set emissions targets so that they can better measure and manage their carbon outputs.
To further assist its members in the reporting process, TCR offers online training programs and other web-based tools to teach companies about proper reporting methods. Members of TCR also gain the unique opportunity to network with other companies who have also taken a pledge to reducing their GHG emissions. To this end, the organization regularly hosts an array of events, including workshops and its Climate Leadership Conference.
After serving in the United States Air Force for over a decade, David “Dave” Pflieger leveraged his flight experience to work with commercial airlines such as Delta Air Lines, Song, Virgin America, and Air Pacific Ltd (which David rebranded and renamed to “Fiji Airways”).
Throughout his career, David Pflieger has promoted green practices both in and out of the office by supporting organizations such as the Mamanuca Environment Society (MES) in Fiji. Looking to protect the various ecosystems within the Mamanuca region, MES runs a number of programs that promote conservation, education, and sustainability. As part of its efforts, the organization hosts an array of awareness programming for members of the surrounding communities.
To educate local children about living sustainably, MES has operated its Marine Environment School Program since 2001. Designed specifically for children in grades six through eight, the program teaches young students about local natural resources and the significance of protecting them. Throughout the program, MES runs topically-driven lessons that cover everything from the types of animals that live in the Mamanuca islands to how humans affect coral reefs. MES also works diligently to inform those who are visiting the Mamanuca islands about the biodiversity of the local region.
Through its Resort Guest Presentation program, the organization works with some of the area’s top resorts to familiarize their guests with local species and ecosystems. In addition, MES informs visitors of the sustainability projects that it operates throughout the community.
When David Pflieger ended his tenure as Managing Director and CEO of Air Pacific, he left behind a legacy of positive change and innovation. He accepted the role in 2010 after the company’s board which was comprised of Fiji government and Qantas representatives, overwhelmingly voted to recruit an experienced international airline executive to restore the ailing company back to profitability. While Dave was hired to simply turn the carrier around from years of worsening record losses, Mr. Pflieger ultimately did much more than that. Indeed, after only two years in Fiji, David Pflieger succeeded not only in restoring the company to record profitability after its record losses, he also establishing the airline as a noteworthy player in the international aviation sector.
In particular, under Mr. Pflieger’s leadership, Air Pacific received its first recognition from Condé Nast as one of the top five small airlines in the world. Mr. Pflieger accomplished this via a comprehensive turnaround and rebranding effort that saw Air Pacific dramatically improve operational reliability and customer service, reduce costs, increase revenue, renew its fleet with new aircraft, change its name to Fiji Airways, and embrace community involvement. In addition to a visual rebranding and a new fleet of Airbus A330-200 aircraft, the turnaround featured the addition of a new corporate social responsibility program.
When Dave Pflieger and his family returned to the United States at the conclusion of his role in Fiji, the positive outcome of the Air Pacific turnaround was clear and the airline has only continued to grow and thrive since that time. Mr. Pflieger remained on the Board after he left and he played a significant role in identifying a successor and facilitating the new executive’s smooth transition.
About David Pflieger
David Pflieger - Senior Airline Executive