Mr Netava Waqa
Civil Aviation Authority of Fiji Islands
Hailing from the Fiji Islands, Mr Netava Waqa, Chief Executive of the Civil Aviation Authority, felt no less at ease in his adopted “second home” Singapore. Having participated in many courses at SAA over the years, Mr Waqa was clearly impressed with the high standards the island republic has to offer. “SAA has become the training provider of choice for us. If the training required is provided in Singapore, we will choose to come here,” he said with a wide grin.
In Singapore for the recent Business Aviation Safety Seminar – Asia, Mr Waqa noted the growing importance of business aviation for Fiji. “Tourism is a major driver for the economy of Fiji with a growing number of the wealthy choosing to fly their own jets when travelling to their private islands in the Pacific. We see the need to regulate this before problems arise, given the increasing importance of business aviation to the tourism sector in Fiji,” he commented.
The aviation sector is important for Fiji’s growing tourism industry. Having put in place an effective regulatory framework to allow growth of the sector, Mr Waqa proudly declared that the aviation sector is a major contributor to the national economy. “Because of our good safety record, we are better able to grow the tourism industry,” he said.
On the challenges faced by the aviation sector in Fiji, Mr Waqa said, “There are
two major challenges. Attracting and retaining the right people is one and the other is maintaining the regulatory framework.”
He continued, “It is difficult to regulate the complex mix of aircraft types and concurrently monitor the operations needed to run each type of aircraft.“
When he is in Singapore and taking a break from these weighty issues, Mr Waqa enjoys sampling Singaporean food fare such as fish curry, which bears similarity to the mix of Chinese and Indian food found in Fiji. His favourite memory of Singapore is the three months he spent here for the Certificate in Aviation Management in 2004. “Having the time to interact and network allowed lots of good memories to be formed,” he recalled. With a laugh, he exclaimed, “Because of Singapore’s reputation for shopping, there were so many requests for gifts that my second luggage had to be shipped back to Fiji as it was just too heavy!”