South African Airways expansion dependent on new government
Image via PIxabay

Former SAA CEO takes overseas airline to great heights

Former South African Airways (SAA) CEO Andre Viljoen has been instrumental in turning around Fiji’s national airline.  


South African Airways expansion dependent on new government
Image via PIxabay

The name Andre Viljoen will be familiar to many South Africans. Viljoen, a former CEO at SAA, was instrumental in modernizing the airline.

It is always good to hear of South Africans making a mark abroad. South Africans are scattered all over the world, bringing their skills and expertise to businesses across the globe.


With his experience in aviation, Viljoen has worked wonders at Fiji’s national carrier.

Viljoen started his career in South Africa and spent time at three of the country’s airlines – where he was involved with finance, business development and turnaround strategies.

Viljoen worked for Comair, South African Express and South African Airways before heading over to the Indian Ocean Island of Mauritius.

He headed Air Mauritius for a number of years before relocating to the small island state of Fiji.


Viljoen joined Fiji Airways as managing director and chief executive officer in October 2015.

His work in raising the airline to new heights has paid off. Viljoen’s efforts to reform the country’s airline and economy have not gone unnoticed.

Viljoen has been awarded Fiji’s Executive of the Year Award in the Fiji Prime Minister’s International Business Awards.  

He was also named Visionary of the Year in the ANZ Fiji Excellence in Tourism Awards.


Last year was a transformative year for Fiji Airways, characterized by increased operations and unprecedented growth.

The airline flew 26 586 international, regional and domestic flights – representing a growth of 40 percent compared to the previous year.

Fiji Airways added two new Airbus A350 aircraft to its fleet, enabling it to add more routes and flights to its flight schedule.

The airline also operated its first-ever flight fueled by Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF).

In addition, the airline has joined the Oneworld Alliance. It becomes the fifteenth member of the airline group.


On 9 May, the airline released its financial results for the period ending 31 December 2023.

Fiji Airways Group announced a record profit before income tax of $131.8 million (R2.5 billion) and operating revenue/earnings of $1.8 billion (R33.8 billion)

Both of these figures are the highest ever in the history of the airline.


Based on its record-breaking financial performance, the Fiji Airways Board of Directors has endorsed a profit share payout of $5 000 (R 93 750) to all eligible non-management employees.

This is to recognise employees for their hard work and dedication.


The airline’s growth and profitability positively impact Fiji’s economy.

I want to put into perspective exactly what these financial results mean not just to the national airline – but to the country. The $1.8 billion revenue (earnings) is a direct injection into the economy.” Fiji’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Finance, Strategic Planning, National Development and Statistics, Professor Biman Prasad said.

Fiji Airways’ unprecedented growth helps the small island state’s economy in countless ways.

It enables the government to improve public services and offer employment. Moreover, it leads to improved livelihoods for citizens.

It spurs activity not just in the tourism sector but across the national economic landscape by way of salaries, the purchases of goods and services, payment of utilities, new investments and countless other daily transactions – all of which collectively fuel the engine of growth. All of your efforts have helped build lives, paid for education, basic health services and assisted in the uplifting of national infrastructure,” Prasad said.