Orders for One-Elevens in the Pacific were very limited when the airlines resisted interference in their purchasing. In Australia TAA and Ansett fought for the DC-9-30 whilst in New Zealand National Airways Corporation chose the 737. East-West Airlines of Australia did order a single One-Eleven 475 in December 1970, but in the end the aircraft was never delivered. The only exceptions to the whitewash was a pair of series 217EAs delivered in 1968 to the Royal Australian Air Force and a pair of series 479FUs ordered by Fiji's national airline Air Pacific.
FIJI AIRWAYS RAPIDES - AIR PACIFIC ONE - ELEVENS.
Air Pacific could trace its history back to Fiji Airways that took off for the first time on September 1, 1951 using a 7 seater Dragon Rapide. Qantas acquired the airline in the late 1950s and gradually it was transformed into a multinational regional airline shared by various Pacific nations. In 1966 for example shareholders included Tonga, Western Samoa, Nauru, Kiribati and the Solomons. In 1971 this change of operation was reflected by a new name Air Pacific.
In addition to the Dragon Rapides the fleet had expanded with de Havilland Australia DHA-3 Drovers and de Havilland DH-114 Herons.
For more information about the uniquely Australian de Havilland DHA-3 Drover see Geoff Goodall's excellent site here: http://www.goodall.com.au/australian-aviation/drover/drover.htm
The first Australasian destination was Brisbane, which was begun on June 1, 1973. This was followed by Auckland and Brisbane via Noumeau in 1975. Previously Air Pacific had bought capacity on Air New Zealand and Qantas services. The second One-Eleven, DQ-FBQ, served a 15 month lease to Air Malawi from July 1974 but the airline was gradually building up its network. In time the One-Elevens were used to operate scheduled services from Suva and Nadi to Apia (Samoa), Auckland, Brisbane, Honiara (Solomon Islands), Noumea (New Caledonia), Pago Pago (American Samoa), Papeete (Tahiti), Port Moresby (Papua New Guinea), Port Vila (Vanuatu), Tarawa (Kiribati) and Tongatapu.
See Ron Cuskelly's Squawk Ident site about Brisbane Airport Ops here: http://www.adastron.com/squawkid/default.htm
The HS-748s were replaced in 1979 by 3 new EMB-110s (DQ-FCV/FCW/FDF) and in June 1978 a third One-Eleven was purchased. This was a series 413FA which became DQ-FCR. She had originally been delivered to Bavaria on lease in 1968 as G-AWGG but served most of her career with them as D-ALLI 'Nyphenburg', with a lease to Gulf Air in 1975. This aircraft actually only saw brief service as it was withdrawn on September 8, 1981 and broken up. This coincided with the delivery the next month of a single new Boeing 737-2X2 from Boeing, which arrived on October 31st. By this time the concept of a pan-Pacific airline had ended and most island nations were starting their own airlines regardless of the financial costs involved. Air Pacific was also struggling and was losing $4-6 million a year by 1981/82; by which time it was busy cost-cutting and reducing staff.
The Fiji government bought out the other shareholder governments around 1984, since they were effectively competing against themselves with their own airlines like Air Vanuatu, Solair and Polynesian. Receiving no subsidies from the Fijian government the airline was given permission to cut loss-making services with other Pacific islands and accordingly the One-Elevens were retired in March 1984 and not replaced. Instead the airline began services to Honolulu as part of 'Project America" using a DC-10 (see my blog entry about the career of that DC-10 for more details). This was a disaster, cancelled after 14 months and leading to accumulated losses of $20 million by 1985. That year Qantas began a 10 year management contract with the airline and swiftly pulled it back from the brink.
Air Pacific has survived and nowadays trades again as Fiji Airways. The idea of a pan-Pacific airline has still not taken off but most of its competitors are long gone. The BAC One-elevens were important elements in forging a place for Fiji's airline and well suited to the rough and ready conditions found on the Pacific islands.
Hill, Malcolm. BAC One-Eleven. Crowood Aviation Series
1981. Hollie, P. New Pacific Industry: Airlines. New York Times
The BAC One-Eleven & Fokker Jetliners. Air Vectors.net
The Far East. BAC1-11jet.co.uk
DH 114 heron. Kiwiaircraft Images
2004. Air Pacific BAC 1-11. Airliners.net
Skinner, S. 2013. BAC One-Eleven: The Whole Story. The History Press
Our History. Fiji Airways.com
Fij Airways. Funding Universe
13/4/2017 04:06:27 pm
Fantastic write up Richard. I've learned so much for the airline that I admire. Thank you.
20/11/2018 11:02:31 pm
l enjoyed article very much. After working for B.E.A. S1-11 division
6/7/2019 10:22:02 pm
2 of the Heron photos above originated from me. One is of FAY which I am landing in Abemama in 1971and was taken by an agricultural official who was a friend. I was based in Tarawa at the time. FAY, a Mk 1 Heron was sent to Tarawa because of its fixed undercarriage, requiring less spare parts on the atoll.
7/7/2019 03:41:21 am
Thanks for the info Alan. I hope you didn't mind me using the images.
7/7/2019 04:36:33 am
My pleasure, I enjoyed the article, a bit of nostalgia.
17/12/2022 08:33:49 pm
I had the pleasure of flying from Nadi to Port Vila in a BAC1-11 in 1976 with my family (wife and three children) when I took up a position as a Civil Engineer working for the then Condominium Government of the New Hebrides. The flight was about half full and at take off we were asked to move from our chosen seats (which gave a good view of the outside world) to the back of the plane " to help with the balance" as the air hostess said. After take off we were allowed back to our original seats but had to move again just before landing at Bauer Field. I believe the aircraft (or part of it ) is now back in the UK ( where I live now) at Bournemouth Airport.
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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: