Airline's come and go with some frequency, but some are more interesting than others and few short-lived attempts get a release in 400 scale. Some do though, usually via that haven of diversity Aeroclassics. I do love an obscure airline from an obscure nation and Pacific Flier is both. Small Pacific island nations have often attempted to create their own connectivity but it has not always been easy for them and Palau's attempt in 2009 did not last long.
Palau is a republic in the Western Pacific Micronesian region made up of around 340 islands. The largest 'city' is Koror, on the island of the same name, although it isn't the capital. Koror state contains about 65% of Palau's population, around 11,500 people, so Palau is very small in terms of people. Given the number of islands however, air travel is vital.
The primary airport is Roman Tmetuchl International only 4 miles from Koror. Palau received air travel connections via Continental Micronesia for years and nowadays still has United Airlines connections to Guam and Manila. Other international services are operated by China Airlines (to Taipei), Air Niugini (Port Moresby and Brisbane) and Skymark Airlines (Tokyo).
Pacific Flier (IATA PI / ICAO: PFL) appears to have come about from a desire for Palau to have its own airline to increase inbound tourism and options for exports, especially of Tuna. It was founded in 2009 and initially wanted to start operations on September 1 with twice weekly services from Koror to Clark International in the Philippines and Tokyo Narita. There was also early talk of service to Brisbane and even Shanghai.
This date came and went, as did a second of January 12, 2010. The issues came from challenges raised by Continental Micronesia. Although Pacific Flier was incorporated in Palau the majority of the owners were not citizens and thus it was viewed as a foreign controlled airline.
Equipment for the startup was to be a single Airbus A310-300 registered CS-TEI and owned by the Portuguese charter airline HiFly. Continental argued that HiFly effectively controlled the startup and successfully had the FAA refuse to grant it scheduled service rights on January 11, the day before operations were to begin.
The A310 was fitted with 18 business and 176 economy seats. It had previously been on lease to Oman Air and retained their livery, minus tail logo, with just Pacific Flier titles added. The initial timetable was to have been a departure every Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday from Palau to Manila Clark at 7:00 AM with arrivals at 10:35AM for a travel time of 2 hours and 30 minutes. Schedule for departures from Clark would have been every Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday leaving at 5:40PM arriving Koror at 7:10PM Local time. It was then scheduled to leave for Brisbane in Australia and back to Koror before proceeding to Guam and back to Koror then Manila in that rotation.
It wasn't until late April that the airline finally got off the ground, but even then it was only as a charter operation. Destinations were Clark International, Guam, Brisbane and the Gold Coast. The Guam service only started in July but was discontinued in mid-August with the airline blaming delays in granting of the traffic rights and 'workable' access to the terminal. All other operations were discontinued at the same time and the A310 was returned to HiFly. It continued with them until being withdrawn in March 2013.
The airline intended to restart operations in September as Pacific Flier’s senior vice president – airline operations Neil Hansford said at the time:
“It is unfortunate that the airline was launched prematurely, but we are focussed on a re-launch once workable traffic rights have been achieved and when terminal access has been improved at Koror Airport in Palau,”
Apparently a replacement aircraft had been sourced but once again the restart depended on the FAA giving scheduled service permission. This doesn't appear to have happenned and Pacific Flier never restarted operations.
I'm Richard Stretton: a fan of classic airliners and airlines who enjoys exploring their history through my collection of die-cast airliners. If you enjoy the site please donate whatever you can to help keep it running: