SolAir stays afloat with charters & local flights

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By EDDIE OSIFELO

SOLOMON Airlines is generating more revenue from charters and domestic flights which is has been carrying out in recent months.

This was after the closure of borders due to coronavirus pandemic which stopped international passengers from visiting Solomon Islands since last year.

Chief Executive Officer, Bret Gebers told media through virtual from Australia that charters are not a consistent way of earning money but at the same time it is the only option available at the moment.

“We are not allowed to fly general schedule services.

“We have a Friday flight that flies from Brisbane to Honiara and back to Brisbane with a limited number of passengers allowed for whole of July and mostly August,” he said.

Gebbers said they are not able to carry new passengers as a result of new delta variant.

“However, the government recently allowed a limited number of people to start flying again.

“And the rest of the Friday flights are solely cargoes and cargoes are important stuff for the country and instances, spare parts for our domestic operation etc.,” he added.

As far as charters go, Gebbers said Solomon Airlines had done a number of charters to China to pick up vaccines, which we delivered to both Honiara and Tarawa (Kiribati).

“We done flights picking up construction workers and drop them in Honiara from China.

“We done a significant number of Nauru Airlines and we take number of Seasonal workers from a number of countries in the South Pacific to Brisbane and Sydney and sometimes Hobart,” he added.

Gebbers said the charters took a number of planning, time and efforts and many of them got cancelled at the last minutes for number of reasons, some of which is covid related, some of which is capacity for quarantine  and host country limitation to take number of people from other country.

He said sometimes somebody popped up with a better prize and the charter flight is cancelled.

“Nonetheless we worked extremely hard at generating charters, the Brisbane crews are working extremely hard to make sure the A320 a success,” he said.

On the other hand, Gebbers said within Solomon Islands, they have domestic operations to dash 8 and two twin outers.

“We have a third twin outer which we leased to Air Kiribati because they needed another twin outer very badly.

“The domestic service is operating at 60 percent.

“Other problems of world flying, becomes difficult to get sparts from anywhere in the world to meet our weekly flight to Honiara,” he added.

In addition, Gebbers said it cost Solomon Airlines $51,000 to send a crew of Dash 8 to do simulating training in Melbourne compare to $12,000 in the past due to quarantine in Brisbane and Solomon Islands.

“It used to take a week and cost about $12,000 for a crew.

“Now send the same crew to Brisbane, two week of quarantine and go to Melbourne, come to Brisbane wait for another flight to Solomon Islands and then spends three weeks in quarantine. So, the cost of training a crew is from $12,000 to $51,000,” he added.


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