With extensive experience as a senior executive, pilot, and attorney at airlines that include Delta, Song, Virgin America, and Silver Airways, David (Dave) Pflieger most recently served as CEO, president, and board member of Larry Ellison’s airline–Hawaii Island Air.
Prior to that, however, David Pflieger’s biggest accomplishment was the turnaround and rebranding of Air Pacific, which Dave renamed to Fiji Airways. The airline was rebranded to Air Pacific in 1970 in order to promote its South Pacific Island joint nation ownership. Unfortunately, a dated fleet, increasing losses, and intense competition to Fiji from Australian and New Zealand low cost carriers Jetstar, Virgin Australia, and Air New Zealand, who were offering cheaper flights to tourists in 2008 and 2009, caused the airline, which is majority owned by Fiji’s government, to take a major hit. The airline’s heavy reliance on the Australian and New Zealand tourist market created a perfect storm that made conditions at the struggling airline so dire that by 2010, Air Pacific reported the worst losses in its history and was almost broke.
Despite those challenges, Dave Pflieger and his new management team, led the company through a major restructuring that included cost cutting, revenue improvement, and much improved customer service – all of which combined to allow Air Pacific to bounce back into the black by 2012 – just two years later. That task complete, the airline was then renamed Fiji Airways, and it expanded its reach to US tourists, as well as those from China with its brand new fleet of Airbus A330 and Boeing 737 jets. Since 2013, with a unique new livery/paint scheme on its new planes, the company has continued to grow and achieve ever increasing record profits with an expanding fleet of new planes and more flights to Australia, New Zealand, the US, China, Singapore, and beyond.
Summer is officially here! And as the days get longer, the nights get warmer and the beaches get packed with sunbathers, it is only natural that humans want to explore the world. And in order to explore the world, we utilize one of the greatest inventions in recent history: the airplane. Unfortunately, millions of other humans want to travel, and that can create some headaches. With that being said, I figured I could list a few helpful tips for traveling this summer, whether you are flying to another state or another country.
One of the biggest mistakes any person can make while traveling is to pack too much. People like to pack their clothing, their toiletries, electronics, reading material, and so on. And while those things are important, what I am focusing on here is to ensure that you pack the bare necessities. Bring only the exact number of clothes that you know you will need. Do not bring your laptop, tablet, smartphone, speakers and headphones. Only bring what you actually need and what you know you will use. By keeping your number of items as small as possible, you are cutting down on check-in fees for luggage and the amount of stuff you have to carry around with you.
If you are flying first-class then you can probably ignore this tip, but if you are flying economy you are well aware of the fact that comfort on an airplane is as realistic as a unicorn. That is why it is important to make the best of an uncomfortable situation. Wear loose clothing that allows your body to breathe (like sweatpants and a hoodie), wear shoes that can be easily taken off and put back on, and throw on a baseball cap in order to avoid doing your hair. Essentially, wear whatever you need to in order to sleep easier.
This one may not even be on your mind while flying, but it is always great to stay hydrated on a flight. Dehydration on a flight, especially a long one, is never good. Experts recommend that you drink enough water so that you are forced to use the lavatory every so often. This not only keeps your body hydrated, but also keeps your body moving, so that you do not run the risk of developing deep vein thrombosis.
Last month I had mentioned the emergence of biometrics in the airline industry. The new sector is looking to disrupt the industry in order to create more innovative and hassle-free ways of airline travel. One of the methods of biometrics that had been discussed was using fingerprint and iris scanners for easy identification. Now it seems as though a Scandinavian airline is taking things to the next level with a much more invasive method of identification.
Scandinavian Airlines (SAS) just recently told the public that it had successfully implanted a chip inside of the hand of one of its employees. The chip allows the employee to enter the airline’s lounge or to simply board a plane without any additional method of identification. While the airline understands that it will not likely be able to implant chips into any of its passengers, it does hope that this technology helps open the door to new and much more commercial innovations.
The biometric chip is part of SAS’ technology project, SAS Labs. The project is designed to create and inspire new and exciting ways to disrupt the airline industry in an effort to push it forward. The SAS Labs project has also resulted in another technological method of easy identification in the form of bluetooth luggage tags. These tags will make it easier for travelers to claim their luggage. The tags are reusable and could change the face of the already incredibly infuriating baggage claim process.
As I’ve mentioned before, technology is changing every facet of our lives. From airlines to construction to entertainment, it’s all changing. And now with SAS having successfully implanted a chip into the hand of an employee, this could become the future of airline travel. And whether or not this chip will actually catch on and become mainstream (most likely not) it is almost certain that a less intrusive method will become the norm. With almost every major airline working on this fascinating technology, it is only a matter of time until we can board an airplane in a matter of minutes without the use of traditional identification.
To be honest, I was not expecting to provide an update on biometrics so soon, but it seems as if this sector is looking to disrupt as quickly as possible. I will be sure to keep you guys posted as more news becomes available.
A few days before returning to America to begin the next leg of his career at Miami-based Silver Airways, former Fiji Airways executive David Pflieger was asked to join his staff at the company’s hangar in Nadi, Fiji. The event was planned as a send-off for the widely-acclaimed aviation business leader, who three years prior had accepted a contract to serve as the firm’s managing director and CEO. When Dave arrived in 2010, he faced the daunting task of leading the company out of a significant financial crisis, but he ultimately succeeded at orchestrating a turnaround that positioned Fiji Airways as a successful and internationally competitive company.
Mr. Pflieger described the privilege and honor of working with the skilled Fiji Airways team, who in turn highlighted many of the accomplishments achieved under his leadership. With David Pflieger at the helm, the airline brought in $16.5 million in annual profits just a few years after reporting losses of $91.8 million. Behind this impressive renewal were improvements to customer service and reliability, which included a large investment in the airline’s new fleet—the first-ever fleet of purchased wide-body aircraft. Fiji Airways also increased its investment in its employees, establishing first-ever performance-incentive and profit-sharing programs.
One of the more noteworthy changes introduced during the Fiji Airways turnaround was the establishment of a corporate social responsibility program. In addition to formalizing the airline’s commitment to causes such as the Foundation for Rural Integrated Enterprises and Development (FRIEND) and the Mamanuca Environment Society, the initiative led to the development of Fiji’s first-ever community health & wellness clinic.
The numerous improvements spearheaded by Mr. Pflieger during his time at Fiji Airways helped it to establish a global reputation for performance quality and customer service. During his tenure, the airline received its first accolades from Condé Nast Traveler, making the publication’s list of the Top 10 Small Airlines for two consecutive years.