50 years of connecting Fiji and Queensland

Marking half a century of Fiji Airways flying to BNE

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Brisbane Airport is today celebrating 50 years of connecting Queensland with the Pacific paradise of Fiji. It was on 1 June 1973 that a BAC 1-11 touched down at Eagle Farm Airport at 1425. Flight FJ515 from Suva to Brisbane carried 64 passengers, with Captain Neil Ganley in command. Air Pacific would later be renamed Fiji Airways

To mark the historic event, Brisbane Airport Corporation has created a side-by-side comparison of the 1973 flight versus 2023 using remarkable film discovered and digitised from deep in the Seven News archive. You can watch the video here.

Coincidently, 1 June 1973 would turn out to be a significant day in Queensland’s aviation history, with the first batch of F-111s touching down at RAAF Base Amberley just hours earlier. The strike bomber would become a symbol of the region and its “dump and burn” party trick would feature in everything from Riverfire to the closing ceremony of the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games. 

Aviation historian Ron Cuskelly was at both events, and his wife Maureen later worked as an Air Pacific flight attendant.  

“I drove out to Amberley and was able to witness the arrival of the first F-111s from the United States and then dash back to Brisbane in time to see the arrival of the first British Aircraft Corporation One-Eleven from Fiji.  So 1 June 1973 will go down in history as “One-Eleven” day for sure. It was pretty remarkable to be able to capture two historic events in one day.” 

The following morning, FJ516 departed Brisbane for Suva at 0915 with 50 passengers on board.  DQ-FBQ-BNE-01JUN73-Ron Cuskelly-E100

Brisbane Airport Corporation CEO Gert-Jan de Graaff congratulated Fiji Airways on half a century of flying to BNE. 

“Our mission is to connect the world and through our partnership with Fiji Airways together we’ve connected millions of people from across the Pacific into Queensland. This is not only an important flight for the tourists it carries, but also for the Pacific nations it connects to Australia for work, education and bringing together families and communities.  

“Brisbane Airport is the most connected Australian port to the Southwest Pacific with direct flights to 13 cities, with many linked only to Brisbane.  

"We congratulate Fiji Airways on their magnificent milestone and we look forward to the next 50-years working together.” 

Fiji has shown the best recovery of any international destination, and is now sitting at 112% of pre-Covid levels. Fiji Airways currently operates 8 services per week between Brisbane and Nadi, increasing to 9 flights per week in peak periods. Fiji is now the 6th biggest outbound market from Brisbane (up from 7th pre-Covid). 

Last year Fiji Airways exported approximately 296 tonnes of cargo from Brisbane to Nadi including chilled beef and fresh fruit.

Brisbane Airport Corporation, Fiji Airways and the tourism industry will gather in Brisbane on Thursday night to mark their 50-year partnership. 

For more information contact Brisbane Airport Media 0437 935 471