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Message from our CEO this Independence Day


Posted on July 07, 2021 at 07:00 AM in General News


Dearest Friends and Partners,

On National Independence Day, as we celebrate Solomon Islands’ 43rd year of independence, on behalf of Solomon Airlines I wish to express our gratitude to the Solomon Islands Government and to the people of Solomon Islands.

In the past 12 months, while airlines around the world have ceased to operate due to the impact of COVID-19, it is because of the Solomon Islands and Australian Governments and national support, as well as the hard work and sacrifices made by our team, that Solomon Airlines has continued to fly.

Despite our borders remaining closed and not operating regular international passenger services, Solomon Airlines international aircraft has continued to touch down in Australia, New Zealand, Malaysia, Philippines, China, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, Vanuatu, Tonga, Fiji, Samoa, and Kiribati.

These carefully controlled, Government approved international charters, have created vital revenue to keep the airline operating. Within the Solomon Islands, we have continued operations to all 23 destinations in our domestic network so that communities can remain connected.

Our weekly Brisbane-Honiara-Brisbane services continue, carrying cargo and more recently a limited number of pre-approved passengers. Also, with the support of the Solomon Islands Government, we were able to complete the purchase of our newest Twin Otter H4-SIC. This aircraft, entered daily service this month enabling greater efficiency, reliability, and better service for customers across our domestic network.

More than 18 months since the emergence of COVID-19, around the world and within our region, the pandemic remains a very real and present threat and there is no immediate end to the travel restrictions in sight. The recently opened quarantine-free travel corridor between Australia and New Zealand has again been interrupted due to new COVID-19 outbreaks in Australia, casting doubt on the formation of more travel bubbles any time soon, including with Solomon Islands.

In such an environment, as we wait for vaccination rollouts to progress, we have no choice but to persevere, with Governments, regional partners, and stakeholders in tourism and travel, continuing to work together on finding, developing, and implementing interim solutions to ensure our survival.

Our Iumi Tugeda Holidays programme designed to support local tourism operators is one example of that. Under this initiative, 40 tourism operators in 11 destinations, have partnered to encourage more Solomon Islanders and residents to explore more of the country. We are continually expanding the program, to help sustain our local industry in the absence of international tourists.

An initiative with the Ministry of Public Service to enable public servants to redeem accrued leave towards Iumi Tugeda Holidays is in development, and likewise, we are encouraging Human Resources teams within the private sector to adopt this initiative. Solomon Airlines has already introduced a similar program internally for staff.

We are also working closely with the Commodity Export Marketing Authority (CEMA) and other key export partners to increase the awareness of produce and export capability internationally and have introduced special cargo incentive rates on our Honiara to Brisbane services. We must develop our agriculture sector and export food products to the world as part of developing our economy.

To facilitate the repatriation of students we have been working with other regional island nations and we are also conferring on plans to resume regular services in a controlled and gradual manner.

Looking forward, Tourism Solomons, together with the Ministry of Culture & Tourism, has released a five-point plan aimed at preserving our local tourism industry and outlining the necessary steps to rebuild international tourism when our borders can safely reopen again.

While we celebrate National Independence Day and reflect on the characteristics that have shaped Solomon Islands to become the proud nation it is today, I have no doubt that Solomon Airlines will survive and thrive, to again bring international visitors and new economic opportunities to the people of the Solomon Islands. Thank you for your continuing support,

 

Yours sincerely,

Brett Gebers

Chief Executive Officer

Solomon Airlines

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