SolAir looks forward to Dash-8 service on Renbel

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Solomon Airlines is looking forward to providing Dash-8 service to Rennell and Bellona province.

However, the national carrier says implementing this would depend much on the national government.

The province is in dire need of transportation service with capital Honiara.

And, SolAir’s Twin Otter is the only regular transport servicing the two-island province.

New Chief Executive Officer Gus Kraus in a media conference yesterday, says it is the Airline’s intention to provide Dash-8 service ‘almost everywhere in Solomon Islands’.

SolAir’s Board Chairman Frank Wickham says the route to Bellona and Rennell islands ‘is a very busy route for our domestic Twin Otters’.

“And we look forward to the day when we can get the Dash-8 into Rennell and Bellona,” he adds.

Renbel Premier Japhet Tuhanuku has welcomed the notion by Solomon Airlines, saying the Dash-8 service is a “huge and real need for his province and people”.

Tuhanuku in an interview yesterday thanks the airline for its service to his province which is the only transportation service keeping the province afloat.

He explains that services on the two islands are ‘very poor and remain to be so’ because of transportation from Honiara being confined to the few Twin Otter trips a week Solomon Airlines is providing.

This is made profound by the ‘very bad shipping service’, he adds.

“The whole of this year, MV Avaikimaine serviced the two islands only once. And with this very poor shipping services, the Twin Otter trips is not enough.

“It would have been enough if shipping service to Rennell and Bellona was good, and regular.

“But, since the bad shipping, we need that [Dash-8] service very badly.”

Meanwhile, SolAir Financial Controller Peter Soqoilo, during yesterday’s conference, explains that Solomon Airlines, as much as it would like to see Dash-8 service in Renbel, is only an operator, and the decision to maintain or extend airstrips belongs to the Ministry of Aviation (MCA).

Premier Tuhanuku agrees, saying it depends on MCA and ministry of infrastructure development (MID).

He adds that the national government has promised him and his Executive twice that the airstrips on Bellona and Rennell would be upgraded to cater for Dash-8 service.

“The Prime Minister and his Deputy, who is also the minister for Infrastructure [MID], they promised and they said that we [Renbel province] are among the recipients for projects for roads and airfield runway extension.

“We [provincial government] rely so much on aid donors and the national government.

“When we made a courtesy call on the Prime Minister earlier this year, he gave us this reassurance. During the Second Appointed Day celebrations this year, the deputy prime minister highlighted that the extension to the Tingoa and Bellona airfields will follow the wharf project, along with the road project.

“That is what the Central Government has promised us.”