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Fate of Dash 8 on the table


THE Chief Executive Officer of Solomon Airlines says Dash 8 is a liability and that his management is discussing three options that would determine the future of the aircraft.

He made the comments when asked about the media report which states that Solomon Airlines has decided to sell the aircraft.

In an email interview with Island Sun Gizo, Brett Gebers said Solomon Airline will either keep the aircraft, lease it to another operator or put it back in service.

He said reasons for the decision are based on commercial viability of the Dash 8.

“This is not the first time that we have questioned the commercial viability of the Dash 8 or any other aircraft in the fleet.

“It is an expensive aircraft to operate and unless we can fill it with enough passengers to consistently breakeven, we would be stupid to operate it,” Gebers said.

He said the Dash 8 used to fly to eight airports when it was purchased 10 years ago but currently it can fly to four airports because the other runways require maintenance.

Gebers said all airlines review their fleets on a regular basis – an approach he described as part of the business cycle.

“With the Solomon Islands domestic service mostly suspended since January it is an ideal time to review the fleet,” he said.

Gebers said the fact that the aircraft is comfortable is irrelevant as it has to be affordable and fit for purpose.

He said the Boeing 747-400 is also a very comfortable aircraft but very few are in operation because they are too big and too expensive to operate on most routes.

Gebers said Dash 8 is currently in Perth since February undergoing maintenance.

He said the aircraft will not ready until July as it is extremely difficult to get parts which have also become very expensive.

“Much remains to be seen about how quickly the economy recovers after the international and domestic lockdown. We are looking at the options.

“One thing is sure. Unless it can pay for itself, we would be stupid to keep it in operation no matter how comfortable it is,” Gebers said.