Consumers continue to suffer from Pacific Sun’s inconsiderate decisions

01/07/2010 16:04

Consumers in Fiji continue to suffer from inconsiderate and thoughtless decisions of Pacific Sun  and what is of more concern to the Consumer Council of Fiji is that nothing is being done to stop the domestic carrier from dictating the terms of domestic air travel.

The recent disappointment comes from Pacific Sun’s decision to reschedule or remove flights between Suva, Nadi and Labasa from today as one of the airline’s two ATR42 aircraft undergoes mandatory maintenance in Tahiti. While the Council understands the need for aircraft being regularly maintained however, this should not affect services provided by the airline.  Pacific Sun could have hired an aircraft or worked out other ways to maintain existing services rather than rescheduling the airline services which will now affect hundreds of domestic air travellers.

Today (01/07/09) passengers bound for Labasa were stranded at Nausori Airport. One disgruntled passenger who had checked in at 7am called the Consumer Council at 2.45pm to express his anger at the airline’s attitude. More passengers were booked for the 8.30am than what Pacific Sun’s available aircraft could carry. The complainant said the airline instead only accommodated two groups of 10 to 12 passengers who were flown in the smaller aircraft. The remaining stranded passengers were given meal vouchers and some have been given accommodation. However, many have incurred costs as they were travelling to Labasa for work or business purposes.

It seems Pacific Sun is trying to save costs and just opting to remove or reschedule its services at its convenience, after all it is the only domestic carrier for the busy Labasa-Nausori-Nadi route. Why should consumers stop-over in Suva incurring extra accommodation and other related costs when they are enroute from Nadi to Labasa and vice-versa because Pacific Sun will use a smaller Twin Otter aircraft instead of the usual ATR?

It is Pacific Sun’s responsibility to provide consumers the services that it has promised and if for some reason it is unable to do so, then the airline should compensate passengers in cash. This is again a very good example of how Pacific Sun is dictating the terms of domestic air travel because it has substantial market power. If there was competition in the market Pacific Sun would not have been able to make such decisions for the fear of losing customers to the competitor which Air Pacific practices whenever its fleet goes out for servicing.

Pacific Sun is using its dominant position to dictate rules and policies favourable to the airline and consumers have no option but to follow it or lose out travelling within Fiji.

From 2009 to date, the Council has received 25 complaints against Pacific Sun which include flight delays, unfair charges for extra baggage, unsafe conditions and lost luggage. Being a single domestic airline carrier has made Pacific Sun become complacent with the quality of its services which is deteriorating every day. What is more worrying is that Pacific Sun being indifferent to the consumer grievances. 

The Council calls on the Air Transport Licensing Board to investigate Pacific Sun’s services and bring about fairness in the industry to protect consumers.