Santa Cruz flights resume

Lata township airport runway
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Solomon Airlines has confirmed the resumption of regular flights to and from Santa Cruz Airport following the completion of urgent runway repairs.

Santa Cruz flight operations had not been possible since June 26 due to poor runway and weather conditions, with the first Twin Otter flight able to operate on Monday this week.

“Both the Ministry of Communication and Aviation and Solomon Airlines recognise that this has been a difficult time for the community and this project was a priority for us,” said Brett Gebers, CEO of Solomon Airlines.

“As soon as weather conditions allowed, all parties worked closely together to repair the runway, taxiway and apron as swiftly as possible to improve Santa Cruz runway operations.

Twin Otter H4-SIC at Santa Cruz airport

“To assist the Ministry of Communication and Aviation, their Civil Engineer and designated contractors, Solomon Airlines also located our senior Operations Manager at Lata for the duration of the works,” said Gebers.

While Santa Cruz services are currently scheduled to be operated by Solomon Airlines Twin Otter aircraft type, to accommodate the needs of a backlog of passengers, the airline has scheduled its larger De Havilland Dash 8-100 aircraft to operate today. The recovery flight will operate as follows:

• Flight IE 4818 from Honiara to Santa Cruz departing 7.00am arriving 8.40am.

• Flight IE 4819 will depart Santa Cruz at 9.00am arriving in Honiara at 10.40am.

“Disruptions caused by heavy rains are unavoidably linked to the state of our runways,” Gebers said.

“Whilst we would love to operate a reliable schedule year-round with the Dash-8, this is just not possible, as is the case for Santa Cruz and the majority of the local airports we operate to.

“Until the runway and aircraft parking area are hard surfaced, airports will always have disruptions during or following heavy rains,” Mr Gebers added.

The Santa Cruz runway

Santa Cruz was also recently named as the 12th and latest new destination under the expanded ‘Iumi Tugeda Holidays’ programme, with access via the airport in Temotu Province, in addition to Lomlom.

“We thank the Ministry of Communication and Aviation for their completion of these runway works. The renewed capability for Dash-8 operations will improve our ability to fly to Santa Cruz, enables us to use the larger aircraft as demand requires, and we hope, restore faith in the destination’s short break potential” he added.