Fiji flights resuming after Cyclone Winston makes a deadly pass

NADI — Fiji is picking up the pieces after Severe Tropical Cyclone Winston left most parts of Fiji with a debris trail of destruction and at least 18 people dead.

The main international airport on Viti Levu has been reopened. All Virgin Australia flights in and out of Nadi are operating as scheduled, reports the airline. There were reports of delays with Qantas and codeshare partner Fiji Airways. To assist passengers affected by Tropical Cyclone Winston, Fiji Airways and Fiji Link are extending a waiver of fees. The weather waiver applies for passengers holding a valid ticket issued on/before Feb. 19, for travel Feb. 19 – 25. From Canada, the number to call is 1-800-227-4446.

Air New Zealand has resumed flights between Auckland and Nadi but the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade continued to advise against all tourist and non-essential travel to Fiji.

Fiji’s Minister for Industry, Trade and Tourism, Hon. Faiyaz Siddiq Koya said all visitors are safe and comfortable, adding that all properties have taken “all necessary precautions and actions to ensure that their guests are safe and are taken good care of”.

“Furthermore, there are no reports of any significant structural damage to the majority of hotels in Viti Levu, except for some properties in the Rakiraki area,” he said.

Cyclone Winston caused extensive damage to the communications infrastructure, hence, mobile and Internet communications in some parts of Fiji maybe affected. However communication is active in Suva, Nadi, Denarau and along the Coral Coast,” added Minister Koya

The Minister added that tourism “remains a key and important industry for Fiji and this setback will not curb the enthusiasm and the warm hospitality Fiji is renowned for”.

Winds from Cyclone Winston, which tore through Fiji over the weekend, reached 285 kilometres per hour, making it the strongest storm in the Southern Hemisphere since record-keeping began, according to reports.

Getting emergency supplies to the group’s far-flung islands and remote communities was the government’s top priority, said Ewan Perrin, Fiji’s Permanent Secretary for Communications. Home to 900,000 people, Fiji has more than 100 inhabited islands.