Fiji Link, the airline brand for Fiji Airlines Ltd, is a fully-owned subsidiary of Fiji Airways, the national carrier of Fiji. The airline operates mostly domestic flights in Fiji but also some regional flight to other countries in the region such as Vanuatu, Samoa and Tonga. The fleet consists of ATR-42, ATR-72 and Dash-6 Twin Otter aircrafts.
From a passenger perspective there is not much difference between Fiji Link and Fiji Airways other than Fiji Link using only smaller propeller planes. They both also use the FJ IATA code for their flights.
Nadi airport is the main gateway to Fiji and also one of the largest airports in the region. An important transfer hub also for many other destinations.
Although the international terminal is fairly large and spacious with several lounges, duty free shops and jet bridges for the aircrafts, the domestic terminal is a completely different story.
The domestic terminal is more like a shed, and it is tiny, to say the least. However you may also say it gives a much more genuine South Pacific experience.
Most domestic flights go between Nadi, the main airport of the country, and Suva, the capital. Although both Nadi and Suva are located on the same island, Viti Levu, with a distance of no more than 76 miles, due to the vegetation and the high mountain in the centre of the island the road follows the coastline and transportation by bus or car can take 3-4 hours. Hence it makes sense to also operate domestic flights between the cities.
I arrived in Nadi on an international flight from Australia. I had a fairly long layover between the flight from Brisbane and the onward flight to Suva, three hours and 30 minutes. However this actually turned out to be an advantage. My checked luggage did not make the connection in Brisbane and thus did not arrive on the belt in Nadi. However there was another flight from Brisbane to Nadi leaving two hours later, and as I reported my missing suitcase in the baggage hall I was informed my suitcase had been loaded on that flight, which meant I would most likely be able to get it back at the airport before leaving Nadi on the next flight to Suva.
I spent most of the late afternoon in the cafe in the domestic terminal, which is really the only thing to do in that small terminal. After the next flight from Brisbane had landed I went over to the international terminal, got access to the international arrivals hall and fortunately I could pick up my suitcase straight from the belt with the other bags. I informed the woman at the baggage office the bag was back and she just smiled and wished me a nice stay in Fiji.
The domestic apron was very quiet, just like the terminal. There were also a couple of Dash-6 Twin Otter aircrafts parked on the apron, which are used for flights to some of the smaller islands outside Viti Levu, but there was also an ATR-42 which would probably be my aircraft later.
Check-in for the 6.30 pm flight to Suva started two hours before departure however considering the small terminal and the short distances you can check in very late and still make the flight. There were two check-in desks open.
After passing through the standard security control I spent a few minutes waiting in the domestic airside transit hall until boarding was announced.
Fiji Link flight FJ 21
An ATR 42-600 was used for the flight to Suva and based on the number of people in the departure lounge the flight seemed to be completely full. The domestic apron is small and it was just a short walk from the terminal to the aircraft.
The ATR 42 seemed to be fairly new and in a good condition, perhaps not very surprising as ATR 42-600 is one of the newest ATR versions. The cabin gave a good first impression with the interior in beige and light brown.
We departed right on time and took off towards the west and the South Pacific Ocean followed by a 180 degrees turn back to the airport and then towards the mountain and the south-eastern part of Viti Levu where the capital Suva is located. The flight was expected to be 25 minutes.
Seat and cabin
The ATR-42 had a 2-2 configuration onboard with 44 seats in total and there is only one class of travel on these domestic flights, so economy class for everybody. The legroom was not massive but adequate for a short flight of half an hour.
Food and drinks
Refreshing towels and a bottle of water were handed out during the flight by the flight attendant. Although not much in terms of inflight service it was actually better than expected. I would not have been surprised to not be offered anything at all considering the short flight time.
They also offered newspapers to read.
A middle-aged female flight attendant was working in the cabin. Considering the flight time there was not much of a service level and her job was more to focus on the safety of the passengers. However they do have some very nice uniforms on Fiji Link/Fiji Airways.
We landed right on time at Suva Nausori airport after a flight of 23 minutes. As the airport is small we walked on the apron from the aircraft to the terminal building and the domestic section of it.
The terminal is tiny and in contrast to the modern international terminal in Nadi it is basic to say the least.
The domestic arrivals hall was actually not a hall but just an open-air waiting area with a roof. However interestingly there was a baggage belt, a fully functioning one.
And when the baggage handlers had offloaded the checked luggage they drove the cart to the waiting area and offloaded the bags on one side of the belt, right in front of all the passengers, and we picked the bags up on the other side. Although very primitive it did work.
There was not really much of a landside arrivals hall either, just a small door from baggage delivery area to the drop-off zone outside where some friends and family had gathered. I caught a taxi to my hotel in downtown Suva. The negative thing about Nausori airport is that it is actually located a fair distance from downtown Suva. It takes around 30 minutes to drive, which was actually more than the flight took.
The flight departed and arrived on time, the aircraft was new and modern and they even served something to drink on a flight of 23 minutes. However there really should be some more facilities in the domestic terminal in Nadi.