Fiji Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama and Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum joined 500 guests at the official event that marked the opening of the modernised Nadi International Airport. The Prime Minister’s keynote address outlined the amazing achievement
“It is a complex built to world standards. It is certainly the biggest and most modern airport terminal in the Pacific islands and one worthy of Fiji’s status as a hub of the Pacific. And I’m delighted and proud to be here to officially open it. And I know every Fijian share that pride. Because first and final impressions count. And the first and final impression of Fiji most of our visitors will now get is this magnificent new facility. A symbol of a modern, progressive nation. A nation on the move.” (Bainimarama, Fiji Prime Minister, 2018)
It is also the first airport in the Pacific to receive Airport Carbon Accreditation (ACR), as a result of the more energy-efficient systems installed during the build. ACR is a global carbon management program for airports that independently assesses and recognises airports’ efforts to manage and reduce their CO₂ emissions, an accreditation that is hard to acquire and goes further to exemplify how Fiji a small island developing state is standing tall on the international stage on its environmental credentials.
“It is another sign of Fiji’s commitment to reduce its carbon emission which, while we are only a tiny carbon emitter by global standards, reinforces the commitment we are making and that we are seeking from the rest of the world.” (Bainimarama, Fiji Prime Minister, 2018)
In March 2018, tremendous progress was achieved with global recognition at the Skytrax 2018 World Airport Awards, where Nadi was named one of the World’s Most Improved Airports, alongside airports in far larger and more developed nations around the world.
Fiji Airports won the Excellence in Service award in the same year and in November 2019 at the Prime Minister’s International Business Awards, Faiz was honored with the prestigious Excellence in Business Leadership award, given to individuals whose leadership has helped shape our business world.
The moderization project by Airports Fiji Limited (AFL) commenced in July 2013 and reached its completion 5 years later on June 2018 at an overall revised budget of 129 Million Fijian Dollars (FJD). The airport has been serving Fijians and international travellers for nearly 80 years and holds many wonderful memories:
For me personally, this is a night that brings back a great many memories because I grew up not far from here in Natabua. It was the dawn of the jet age as the great propeller-driven Constellations and DC sixes were gradually replaced by 707s and DC8s. Those early jets were much louder than today’s planes and we would often be woken in the early hours of the morning as they screamed overhead. And depending on the wind direction, you could hear the roar of their take-offs from as far away as Lautoka.
Only our elderly citizens will remember that the original Nadi Airport terminal built in the 1940s used to be over on the control tower side of the airport where the sea planes, light aviation operators and flying school are now situated. The present location dates back to the late 1950s, when the arrival of the first jets led to the construction of the first terminal where we are gathered tonight, along with a new runway to give them the distance they needed to land and take off. (Voreqe Bainimarama, Fiji Prime Minister, 2018)
Nadi International Airport Terminal.The design of the airport was to achieve as much natural light as possible considering the constraints of upgrading existing infrastructure, with a fresh clean modern appearance on par with our international counterparts, that allowed the smooth operations of the different departments within the confinements of the Airport, and provide the passengers an initial and final experience that complements the beauty and relaxed atmosphere of the nation.
Undertaking the largest renovation project in Fijian history, whilst maintaining the highest standards and smooth daily operations was extremely difficult. The challenge was even greater considering that Nadi International Terminal is made up of three buildings constructed at different times over the last 70 years, with many more small upgrades since it was initially built. AFL did not have complete building documents of all past constructions and upgrades.
The contractor had to play a game of hopscotch, with every square inch of Nadi International Terminal going through an upgrade. It was common for a contractor to break a wall and find a column, break the ceiling and find damaged gutters or a nest of electrical cables, dig the sub-ground surface, and find sewer lines or underground cables that were never documented. For this reason, the design consultants continued to be engaged in the NATMP until the end of 2016 in their 5th year of engagement. (Executive Chairman, 2018)
The stresses and duration of the Nadi Airport modernization project were felt across the different management teams with some finding the project too large and unassailable, fortunately, the core management stayed true to the original plan and close to the expected budget bringing the five-year project to completion. This displayed to the world how FIji is able to complete internationally-sized projects in a controlled and structured approach.
Every square inch of the airport was modernized and rejuvenated, with substantial attention given to the following: New car park facilities, A two-lane departure drop-off area, a higher grander ceiling that adorns the arrival and departure lounge, expansion of the immigration and customs processing areas to facilitate the smooth transition of the travelers through this Bio-security department, bigger more substantial lounge with a non-denominational prayer room for the public to new refreshed offices for tour operators, and the bold orange walkways that allow you to navigate from the airport to the local bus route on the main road.
Today as we walk around the terminal we do so with quite smiles on our faces, depicting our deep sense of collective achievement as a nation.