New SOLAIR chair confident of overcoming challenges
By EDDIE OSIFELO
SOLOMON Airlines newly appointed Chairman, Frank Wickham is confident the airline will continue to fly through these difficult times and soar high when the skies are clearer.
Wickham in a press conference yesterday said the national carrier has experienced the impact of COVID-19 that has affected its operations and revenue generation.
He said Solomon Airlines is flying over turbulence skies.
“We have been through similar challenge in the past during the ethnic tension and have built some resilience and perseverance.
“But the scope and scale of the challenge for us now is quite significant,” he said.
Wickham said their flight path remains clear to see through this turbulence period of COVID-19 restrictions and would be in a position to do better when the skies are clear and travel restrictions are lifted in our region.
He recalled that between 2012 and 2016, Solomon Airlines Ltd has been making and accumulating loses.
“However, the Airline posted a profit in 2017 and 2018 and it is a testament to the hard work of the Chief Executive Officer, management and staff and does indicate under normal operating environment the airline can be viable and profitable.
“2020 saw a big hit in the Airlines finances, firstly through the impairment of the A320 jet which resulted in loses when we arranged for the sale and then off course the significant downturn of passengers numbers both internationally and domestically,” he said.
Wickham said the Airline has built up 2020 for good year not knowing that COVID-19 was around the corner.
H said there was already an order in place to get a new twin outer and the finances was strong ready to propel the Airline into another good year.
“However, the unfortunate event with the A320 repayments and downfall of passengers numbers has posed a big drop in our cash flow and also in our book numbers.
“The Airline board and management are working hard to improve the company’s finances, to ensure our operating costs and creditors are paid and services returned,” he said.
Wickham said they do not deny the facts that this a very very difficult financial year for the Airline.
“But Iam confident and I hope the country shareholder can see that fairing with other Airlines in the Pacific region, Solomon Airlines has done very very well.
“We are still flying a commercial international restricted route, our domestic services continue,” he said.
Wickham said their challenge now is to raise revenue and maximise revenue so they can see themselves through these very very difficult times.
Wickham replaced Austin Holmes as Chairman. Robert Bochman of Bred Bank is the Vice Chairman.
The Directors are Anthony Makabo, Josefa Tuamoto and Bob Pollard.
Two positions in the Board are still to be filled.