Solomon Airlines wishes to clarify the current airfreighting of Government and private cargo to the Solomon Islands Provinces under the arrangements supported by the Australian Government.
Solomon Airlines aircraft are providing limited, cargo-only domestic flights within the Solomon Islands, partially underwritten by the Australian Government, to support the distribution of essential Government medical equipment and supplies, including PPE, to the provinces.
The Solomon Islands Government through the COVID-19 Oversight Committee (OSC) determines every day which routes they require Solomon Airlines to fly.
“We understand that there has been some confusion among the public about opportunities to send personal cargo on these aircraft, and also about the underwriting of airfreight costs by the Australian Government,” said Solomon Airlines CEO, Brett Gebers.
“Solomon Airlines can only fly routes which have been approved by the OSC. The OSC looks at each application and prioritises the routes based on where medical supplies are required. The space left over after these essential medical supplies are transported is available for any other cargo shipped by our customers at our normal rates.
“Our normal cargo rates were set at a time when we were allowed to fly a mix of passengers and cargo in both directions. Because we are not allowed to fly passengers unless specifically approved by the OSC, we have empty sectors back to Honiara where we earn no revenue. Flying empty sectors with no income is a loss-making exercise.
“This is where the Australian Government is assisting Solomon Airlines. The Australian Government covers the costs that are not recovered from the normal sale of cargo.”
Australian High Commissioner Lachlan Strahan said, “The Australian Government is not covering the full cost of current domestic Solomon Arlines flights, but underwriting some costs to ensure the flights and SolAir can keep operating. Australia is delighted to work in this partnership with Solomon Airlines and the Government of Solomon Islands to keep Solomon Airlines operating and delivering essential medical supplies, food and other goods to the provinces.”
“Our team are working every day to ensure that if there is sufficient room for private cargo, we carry it, or if there is sufficient demand to warrant a flight, we do our utmost to make that happen,” said Brett Gebers.
“Solomon Airlines will continue to work closely with the Solomon Islands Government and Australian Government to ensure that we swiftly distribute critical medical supplies to where they are needed.
“We thank the Australian Government for their support for our nation.
“Currently Solomon Airlines is transporting medical and PPE equipment only, and we are ready, and able to also transport food supplies, should that be required of us,” he added.