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2019 New Year Message from our CEO

Posted on January 11, 2019 at 07:23 PM in General News

As 2019 commences, on behalf of the Solomon Airlines team, we would like to wish our customers and partners a happy, progressive and peaceful New Year and to thank you for your support.

As we look forward to continuing to build our national airline for Solomon Islands, it is also timely to share our achievements over the past 24 months. I am extremely proud of the efforts of our staff.

Solomon Airlines, our Government and the Tourism Solomons, together have a clear future vision for the airline – one that will contribute to greater tourism, further employment of Solomon Islands people and the continued expansion of the national carrier.

The past two years have been a busy period of change, as we worked hard to complete important steps to rebuild and strengthen the business and the operational integrity of Solomon Airlines. A bright future for the Solomon Islands is linked to careful tourism growth and tourism is dependent upon the development of accommodation and reliable and greater airline access.

Together we are committed to building a strong national carrier so that the people of the Solomon Islands can benefit and we can offer new opportunities for future generations.

Improving our Business

Over the past year, we continued to strengthen the financial position of the airline and to improve behind the scenes systems and operations required for future efficiency and growth. Progress included:

  • Solomon Airlines became a full member of IATA in October 2018.
  • In 2017, after four years of successive losses, we also achieved a modest turnaround profit.
  • Despite a critical worldwide shortage of aircraft engine parts, which grounded our Airbus A320 for 5 months creating an unforeseen cost our company, in 2018, we expect a small profit.
  • During the 5-month period without our own aircraft, Solomon Airlines did not cancel any flights.
  • In 2018 we saved over US$4million by successfully renegotiating our A320 aircraft lease. We are extremely pleased with this achievement, as the previous lease contract required Solomon Airlines to return the aircraft to the leasing company in May 2020 along with a payment of around US$1.5million.
  • This means that by October 2019, Solomon Airlines will own the A320 outright.
  • In December 2018, we leased a 4th Twin Otter aircraft.
  • We ceased operating Solomon Airlines’ loss-making operation from Sydney to Honiara in 2017.
  • We continue to work with stakeholders to prepare Munda for direct international flights.
  • The Solomon Islands Tourist Infrastructure Development Fund has been established to provide loans to resort owners in the Western Province to upgrade their infrastructure and facilities.
  • Solomon Airlines now has a fully functioning Operations Control Centre that manages all flights and minimises the effect of disruptions.
  • New, sophisticated and versatile Maintenance Control Software has now been installed.
  • We are in the process of moving our Amadeus Reservations system from the Qantas Reservation System to an independent system operated by Solomon Airlines.
  • Satellite-based internet and reservations software has been installed at many outlying ports.
  • Independent internet feeds have been installed to our International check in facility and head office.
  • Ground support equipment has been purchased for Honiara and Tarawa.
  • The on-time departures of our Brisbane-Honiara-Brisbane flights have improved significantly.
  • An analysis of the viability of our domestic routes has been completed and will result in some changes.
  • Departure times between main airports and Brisbane have been adjusted to provide better connections
  • An extra flight has been added between Brisbane and Honiara on Sunday
  • A codeshare agreement with Fiji Airways was signed in June 2017.
  • A new service to Tarawa on behalf of Air Kiribati was introduced in August 2017 and has been extended to December 2019.

Our People

We are continuing to build the right team to take Solomon Airlines into the future. Our customers and our people are the future of Solomon Airlines and we will continue to invest in training and customer care.

  • All local staff received a pay increase equivalent to 7.8% over a 12-month period.
  • Across the company, the majority of our staff have successfully completed new training, including all Reservations and Check-in staff, Accounting, Engineering and IT staff.
  • We have assisted many of our Pilots to obtain their Airline Transport Pilot Licences.
  • Engineers are receiving assistance to obtain Aircraft Maintenance Licences.
  •  Other training programmes included Pilot Type Rating, Engineer Training, IATA Airline Operations and  Finance, Security Training, Amadeus System Training.
  • We have set up a new Customer Care Team to improve the way we interact with our customers.
  • We changed the way our staff are hired. Solomon Airlines now employs people firstly with a caring and enthusiastic attitude to our customers and work opportunities and secondly with the requisite skills and technical competence.
  • Our Point Cruz Reservations and Sales staff have moved to our refurbished office in Mendana Avenue
  • A dedicated switchboard operator now manages incoming phone calls to Solomon Airlines.
  • To improve the Australian end of our operation we employed several new, specialist staff with significant experience working with major carriers in the region.
  • On an as needs basis we have secured the services of industry leading expertise on short term projects, to fast track strategic change and meet the requirements of Regulatory Authorities, Insurance Companies and other stakeholders.
  • Over time we aim to train enough qualified and experienced local staff to meet requirements in accordance with international industry standards.

We have commenced 2019 with optimism, very confident of further progress ahead.  May I take this opportunity to thank you for your continuing support and to wish all a happy and prosperous New Year.

Brett Gebers

Chief Executive Officer

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