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Sketches of Fiji


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Mr. Drysdale is a Senior Visiting Fellow at the University of New South Wales where he lectures on Aviation management. He is Executive Director of Mentor Aviation Services consulting to the Aviation and Tourism industry throughout the Asia/Pacific region. He grew up in Fiji as a local European, attended local schools, became Fiji's first aircraft engineering apprentice, and one of the first locals to be granted licences to certify aircraft. He spent 15 years as an engineer for Fiji Airways traveling throughout the Pacific islands during a period of pioneering aviation. Mr. Drysdale then became Chief Executive of Fiji's Blue Lagoon cruises, built three ships for them in Fiji to international standards, and grew that company to be a profitable icon of Fiji's tourism. He became CEO of Blue Lagoon's parent company Tapa Tours' with interests in Tour wholesaling, travel agencies and ground transportation for Fiji's tourism industry. He was appointed to the position of Managing Director and CEO of Fiji's Air Pacific (now again named Fiji Airways) at the time of the 1987 military coups. The company had the largest accumulated dept in Fiji's corporate history. He served as CEO of Air Pacific for 10 years during which time he moved the company from the capital Suva to the international tourism hub of Nadi, introduced a fleet of new jet aircraft, and returned the company to profitability. Despite the political instability, within three years he had retired the debt and positioned the airline as the carrier of more than 50% of Fiji's tourists and 60% of all air cargo. With the support of his Board and his team of executives he built the international airline it has become. During this period he served as a Board member of the Association of South Pacific Airlines for 10 years and Chairman for 6 of those years. He was then appointed CEO of Australian Hazelton Airlines (now Rex). After several successful and profitable years, he was instrumental in selling Hazelton to Ansett Airlines. When that company collapsed, he broke Hazelton away, got it flying again and positioned the company such that the administrators were able to achieve a successful sale to new investors. Mr. Drysdale then served for 6 years as Regional Vice President Asia/Pacific for the International Air Transport Association (IATA) based in Singapore, covering 34 Countries and 64 airlines of the region. He was Chairman of IATA India Ltd. He has served on the Board of IATA, as Chairman of IATA's Committee on Human Resources, and as a Director of the Regional Airlines Association of Australia. Mr Drysdale served as a member of the Board of Directors of the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) for many years and was appointed PATA Chairman in 1997. He is a life member of the Association. He is a past President of the Royal Aeronautical Society in Australia, served on the Council of the Society and is a Fellow of the Society.

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