After a three-month absence, Solomon Airlines’ Dash 8 aircraft (H4-SOL) has resumed full operation on the national carrier’s domestic services as of last Friday (11 June 2016).
The aircraft, affectionately known as ‘Megapode’, had been undergoing its heavy C-Check maintenance program under contract with Hawker Pacific based in Cairns, Queensland.
Solomon Airlines general manager – operations and commercial, Gus Kraus, said that after close on three months out of operation it was with a great sense of pride that the carrier welcomed the Dash 8 back into service.
“Megapode has been sorely missed,” Kraus said. “Solomon Airlines would like to thank our valued travellers and the general public for their patience and understanding during the Dash 8’s absence.
“We look forward to the aircraft once again providing a safe and comfortable return to a service that provides a vital air link for the people of the Solomon Islands.
“Naturally much more can be done with this level of commuter aircraft in the Solomon Islands and with government assistance we see much potential in opening up further ports in the Solomon Islands to a Dash 8 service.”
These , Kraus said, included Taro, Seghe and Lata. The airline was also looking at the possibility of providing Dash 8 services to Manaoba and Lomlom subject to those ports being commissioned and operationally approved.
MEANWHILE, a continuing strong performance across March has seen the Solomon Islands close off the first quarter of its financial year with a 14.5% increase in international visitor arrivals including a marked 19.4% increase in Asian-based traffic.
Official Solomon Islands government statistics released this week show a total of 5037 international visitors arrived over the Jan to March period. This compares with the 4399 figure achieved for the same period in 2015.
Australian figures continued to dominate, the 2024 figure recorded across Q1 a 15.6 per cent increase on the 1750 total recorded last year.
US visitor arrivals again showed strong growth. Solomon Islands Visitors Bureau (SIVB) CEO, Josefa ‘Jo’ Tuamoto said he was particularly gratified with the marked growth for the destination’s combined visitor arrivals from Asia.
In February Mr Tuamoto led an SIVB to Port Moresby where he held talks with Air Nuigini CEO, Simon Foo to discuss way in which both organisations could collaborate to increase the flow of Asian visitor arrivals via the carrier’s services ex-Bali, Hong Kong, Manila, Singapore and Tokyo into Port Moresby and onwards to Honiara.
“We are still working off quite low numbers but slowly and surely, Asian visitor arrivals are starting to pick up as our reputation particularly as a world-class dive destination in the massive Asian dive community continues to build.”
Edited by Peter Needham