BY ALEX DADMU
FOLLOWING ongoing consultation with the Solomon Islands and Australian Governments, Solomon Airlines has today 20 March 2020 announced changes to the airline’s Australian flight schedule in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Announcing the changes, Chief Executive Officer Brett Gebers through a statement today Friday 20 March said the airline would continue to review its operations in light of the continuing COVID-19 pandemic and with the interests of Solomon Islanders as the company’s highest priority.
“At a time where a number of large airlines around the world are completely discontinuing their international operations, in so far as we are able, we will provide as much support to the Solomon Islands as well as to our fellow Islanders in the South Pacific to allow for the safe movement of essential personnel as well as critical supplies to continue.
“We will continue to take guidance and clear advice provided by Government health authorities.
“Our international flying provides a critical link between the Solomon Islands and the rest of the world, and as such, we will try to maintain this link as far as possible, even in the likelihood of increasing restrictions,” Mr. Gebers said.
Solomon Airlines regular schedule operates 10 flights weekly (5 flights in each direction) between Honiara and Brisbane, Australia. But according to the Airlines Schedule Update statement – until further notice flights will reduce to 6 flights weekly (3 flights in each direction).
The Airline advised that the following flight suspensions are envisaged to remain in place until October 2020.
• Brisbane to Munda direct international flights, suspended on 14 March 2020 Effective from 21 March,
• Suspension of the Saturday Honiara-Brisbane service Effective from 22 March
• suspension of Saturday Brisbane-Honiara service Effective from 28 March,
• suspension of all Solomon Airlines Saturday and Sunday services between Honiara and Brisbane and return
The airline said it was currently considering whether further schedule adjustments would be required in response to announcements by the Australian and New Zealand governments in the last 24 hours.
Both Governments have placed travel bans preventing all non-residents and non-citizens from entering Australia or New Zealand. The new ban does not apply to Australians living in New Zealand, or New Zealand nationals in Australia.
In the meantime, Mr. Gebers said they will continue to keep Airlines passengers and partners informed and apologize for any inconvenience that these necessary changes may cause, as everyone is working through a difficult time.
He said Solomon Airlines staff members are contacting all travel agents and passengers affected by the changes to make alternative bookings on flights operating either before or after the original dates of travel.