SOLOMON Airlines has employed flight attendants in Brisbane, Australia, due to costs and home quarantine protocols.
The airline clarified this after some people have criticized the management on social media for not recruiting local flight attendants.
Colin Sigimanu, Manager Commercial for Solomon Airlines:
“The temporary employment of flight attendants based in Brisbane was a necessary decision, because our Honiara based flight attendants preferred not to fly during the COVID 19 pandemic and were averse to living in an almost permanent state of quarantine.
“We took their position into consideration.
“To operate our Brisbane to Honiara services, the responsible solution currently, is to use Australian based flight attendants who are employed on a short term contract, or on a casual basis, as they are paid only for days worked, and can safely quarantine for 14 days after each flight, at their own place of residence and at no cost to Solomon Airlines.
“In the short term, we must do the best we can in the extraordinary circumstances and that includes finding short term solutions which are practical, fair to people and which keep costs down.
“We are currently operating just one cargo flight a week from Brisbane to Honiara and return, and with Government approval and complying strictly with the quarantine requirements of both countries are now able to offer a limited number of passenger seats for sale on those flights.
“A Honiara based flight attendant when flying an international service to Australia is currently required to spend a week in hotel quarantine in Brisbane and then on return to Honiara, spend another 2 weeks in quarantine before being able to resume a normal life.
“This is disruptive to family life and it is very costly.
“The crew who originate from Brisbane can fly to Honiara and return same day, but must also immediately enter 14 days compulsory quarantine in Australia as required by the Australian Government.
“They can undertake this quarantine period at their home as they are Australian Citizens.
“During the 14 days, they may not leave home except to fly nor may they mix with people outside of the family.
“There is also no cost to Solomon Airlines as they are quarantining at home.
“One of our Brisbane based cabin crew who was employed on a casual basis, is married to our Chief Pilot, and it made sense at the time as she would be in quarantine with him at home.
“These measures were taken in April 2020 with full awareness of our executive management in Honiara and agreement of the Board.
“They were intended as temporary measures and were expected to be required for 4 to 6 months during the COVID-19 pandemic, however are unfortunately still required to continue operating.
“It is now more than one year since the global pandemic was declared and due to factors outside of our control we may still face another year before we are likely to see more international flights in our schedule.
“Our immediate priority is to do whatever is required to survive this challenging period, but our priority is, and has always been, to ensure a future for the airline and for Solomon Islanders.
“This is why the decisions such as these have been made following consultation with affected parties.
“Home quarantine for our Solomon Islands crew is still not an option in the Solomon Islands and we cannot expect them to live in a hotel away from their families for an extended period.”