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.
In May 2013, the team at Air Pacific, now Fiji Airways, bid a fond farewell to the man who led them through a period of significant and positive transformation. Accomplished aviation business leader David Pflieger joined the company in 2010 as Managing Director and CEO, taking on the lofty task of rebranding and rejuvenating the struggling national airline. At the time of his appointment, Fiji Airways had been operating at a severe financial deficit for two years. Mr. Pflieger succeeded in restoring the airline to its former prosperity, accomplishing a financial turnaround from $91.8 million in losses to profits of $16.5 million in just two years.
In order to achieve this reversal, Mr. Pflieger introduced dramatic improvements to several of Fiji Airways’ operational areas, including customer service and on-time performance. He implemented a Key Performance Indicator program to encourage and promote excellence among front-line employees, offering up to $1,200 in annual bonuses per employee, in addition to establishing Fiji's first-ever profit-sharing plan for those outside of management positions.
The turnaround effort also featured a number of investments in the airline’s fleet, including the first-ever purchase of wide-body aircraft, the creation of a new corporate social responsibility program which served Fijian communities in a variety of ways, partnering with organizations such as the Foundation for Rural Integrated Enterprises and Development (FRIEND) and the Mamanuca Environmental Society, as well as establishing Fiji's first-ever Wellness Clinic to promote health among employees and Fiji residents.
David Pflieger’s many accomplishments helped to elevate the reputation of Fiji Airways worldwide, attracting attention from international banks and multiple other partners. The carrier also earned a Condé Nast Traveler’s ranking as one of the top 10 small airlines in the world. As Mr. Pflieger departed Nadi, Fiji, for his new position in Miami, Florida, he drew praise from the airline's unions and the Fiji Airways board for his employee-focused turnaround strategy and dedicated leadership. As stated by Air Pacific chairman Nalin Patel, “Having successfully restored the airline to profitability in just two years, and revitalized and re-branded the airline in just three, Dave has earned the respect of all of his employees and Fijians everywhere.”
While serving as the managing director and CEO of Fiji Airways, experienced aviation business leader David Pflieger led the company to achieve a positive impact on its local communities. In addition to guiding Fiji’s largest national airline in initiatives to bolster sustainability and preserve the island nation’s natural environment, Mr. Pflieger orchestrated key partnerships that benefited public health.
In a joint effort with Zens Medical Centre, Fiji Airways helped to establish Fiji’s first wellness clinic in May 2013. The Fiji Airways Wellness Clinic now provides a wide range of preventable health resources aimed at curbing many of the most common avoidable causes of death among Fijians, including heart disease, diabetes, and stroke. The partnership between Fiji Airways and Zens Medical Centre has also helped to promote the importance of regular exercise and a healthy diet for long-term health. Beyond facilitating the clinic’s inception, Fiji Airways contributed $40,000 to pay off financing for the facility’s dialysis machine and made an additional three-year pledge of $100,000 to provide free preventive care to both Fiji Airways employees and the general public.
Within its first month of operation, the Fiji Airways Wellness Clinic served more than 70 patients and provided preventive health care screenings for over 500 individuals in 2014. Going forward, the clinic expects to treat approximately 960 patients each year.
One of the most prominent national airlines among the South Pacific nations, Fiji Airways has operated under its current brand for just over three years. From 1979 to 2013, the national airline of Fiji operated under the name Air Pacific. Citing a lack of consumer association between the airline and the nation of Fiji, managing director Dave Pflieger initiated a sweeping overhaul of the company’s brand.
The official rebranding ceremony took place in 2013. Held in the Fijian capital of Suva, the ceremony was attended by Frank Bainimarama, prime minister of Fiji, as well as a number of other senior officials from both the Fiji government and the former Air Pacific. At the ceremony, the newly branded Fiji Airways announced the delivery of three new A330-200 aircraft, which represented the company’s first-ever purchase of newly constructed aircraft. Fiji Airways also revealed upgrades in several other areas, including in-flight dining, entertainment systems, and partnerships with major international airlines.
About David Pflieger
David Pflieger - Senior Airline Executive