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.
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.
Formerly the President and CEO of Hawaii Island Air, Inc. (Island Air), David “Dave” Pflieger led and oversaw highly effective restructuring, turnaround, and sale of Hawaii’s second largest airline in just 15 months. Dave Pflieger’s efforts and successful results were commended by the airline’s current owner and its new investors PaCap Aviation Finance, LLC, and Malama Investments, LLC. both of which are managed by Hawaii’s largest venture capital investment firm, PacifiCap.
Operating flights from Oahu to Maui and Lanai, Island Air is Hawaii’s largest regional airline. Having acquired new majority owners in early 2016, the airline now plans to boost the size of its fleet with additional aircraft that will allow it to expand to other neighbor island destinations. It was for that reason that Dave Pflieger and the new management team recently announced that Island Air would grow its network in mid-March with the addition of six new roundtrip flights between Lihue airport in Kauai and Honolulu in Oahu.
Originally founded as Princeville Airways, Island Air has served Hawaii for more than 35 years. The airline currently provides 224 flights weekly, and its primary aircraft, the ATR-72, accommodates 64 passengers, who are able to benefit from the airline’s low fares while traveling to neighboring islands. For more information about the corporation, visit www.islandair.com.
David Pflieger serves as the CEO of Hawaii Island Air, an airline that provides service between the islands of Hawaii. Dave Pflieger’s aviation career began in the U.S. Air Force where he flew as a B-52 and C-130 pilot before he became an attorney with the prestigious law firm of King & Spalding and later worked as the chief operations attorney for Delta Air Lines. After helping launch Virgin America as one of its founding officers, Dave Pflieger was recruited to be the CEO of Air Pacific Ltd., Fiji‘s national carrier, which he re-fleeted and rebranded to “Fiji Airways” and while in Fiji, Dave led and oversaw the rebranding and revitalization of the country’s national tourism office.
Fiji places great emphasis on tourism, making it a top vacation destination. Visitors to Fiji can enjoy a host of outdoor adventure activities, including boating, cave and helicopter tours, and parasailing. Plenty of hiking opportunities exist: Dawasamu’s Tova Peak hike in the District of Dawasamu, Tailevu, is one. Locations such as Beqa Lagoon Reef offer snorkeling opportunities through fishing charters and cruises.
Fiji’s wildlife park is located at Kula Eco Park, offering visitors the opportunity to see native animals such as the endangered Fijian iguana.