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Solomon Airlines Chairman pleased with progress as passenger numbers climb to pre-COVID levels

Posted on July 20, 2023 at 08:00 AM in General News

Solomon Airlines Chairman Mr Frank Wickham today confirmed positive news for the national carrier as Solomon Airlines prepares to receive its second international aircraft next week.

Mr Wickham said the national carrier is in ‘a strong position to go forward’  as he updated SICCI members and media on recent developments for the airline.

“At the outset I wish to acknowledge and thank the CEO Mr Gus Kraus and his Executive Team and staff for the strong teamwork and progress they have made over the past months.  Their work has positioned the airline strongly to go forward,” he said.

Solomon Airlines reported a steady increase in passenger numbers for both domestic and international operations, with the month of June seeing passenger numbers exceeding June 2019 pre-Covid numbers.

Mr Wickham said that as a result of growing passenger numbers, the airline’s revenue is also steadily climbing. He confirmed that a review of all domestic routes is currently underway.

“Overall, earnings from passenger revenue is pleasing and further supplemented by the recent routes established in partnership with Air Vanuatu,” he said.

“The new code-shared Honiara-Vila-Auckland return flight and the Brisbane-Santo flights are quickly seeing an increase in passenger numbers. We have also leased our third Twin Otter aircraft to to Air Vanuatu to assist recovery of their domestic operations. 

“I am also delighted to say that we have made very good progress with our aim to employ Solomon Islanders with a number of locals now appointed to senior and technical positions at the airline,” Mr Wickham said.

Recent local appointments include:

  • Mr Daniel Bugotu to the position of Safety Manager
  • Ms Malina Ilala to the position of Chief Finance Officer
  • Ms Aketa Nanauasi appointed to Manager Quality Assurance
  • Mr Lister Hopa our Manager Continuing Airworthiness

“We are very pleased to confirm that our pilot workforce now includes four Solomon Islanders. We acknowledged and thank the CEO Gus Kraus for leading this aim and progressing these appointments.

“Mr Daniel Leong has completed his training to become a First Officer on the international Airbus A320 aircraft type. We have two new Captains on our Dash 8 aircraft including Captain Linda Owen and Captain Jerry Tumuri, and Capt Aumanu is a First Officer on the Dash 8.

“We are also pleased to say other pilots are being identified for further development.

Mr Wickham also confirmed Solomon Airlines Limited’s decision to lease a second Airbus A320 international aircraft and the appointment of Mr Sean Teo to project manage the entry of the aircraft into service.

“Our second international aircraft is a very significant commitment based on our confidence in the future and as we prepare to fly many thousands of athletes, officials and spectators to Solomon Islands for the Pacific Games,” Mr Wickham said.

Mr Wickham also expressed Solomon Airlines appreciation to government and private sector partners who continued to offer on-going strong support for tredevelopment or the national carrier following the impact of the covid pandemic.

Among organisaitons he named were:

  • The national government through the Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Communication and Aviation
  • Civil Aviation Authority of Solomon Islands
  • Ministry of Culture and Tourism
  • Tourism Solomons
  •  Solomon Islands Airport Corporation Ltd
  • Customs, Immigration and Biosecurity
  • Board and Acting CEO of Investment Corporation of Solomon Islands
  • Bank South Pacific
  • National Provident Fund
  • ANZ
  • Solomon Islands Road and Airports Project
  • Heritage Park Hotel

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