SUNBIZ

Solomons Financially Hurt By Airline Dispute

A former Solomon Islands government minister has called on the Solomons Government to intervene in an ongoing airline dispute that he says is costing the country dearly. Alfred Sasako in
19 Sep 2014 09:06
Solomons Financially Hurt By Airline Dispute

A former Solomon Islands government minister has called on the Solomons Government to intervene in an ongoing airline dispute that he says is costing the country dearly.

Alfred Sasako in a statement said: “The dispute has gone beyond the ability of civil aviation authorities in both countries to deal with meaningfully and decisively.

“The last few weeks have proven far too costly for Solomon Islands and indeed the travelling public and there seems to be no end in sight.”
Mr Sasako says only a political move at the highest level will help to find a solution to the increasing tension between the nation’s carrier, Solomon Airlines, and Fiji Airways.

“As such, the only way out as I see it is for political intervention with clear and decisive direction,” Mr Sasako said.
Mr Sasako says the Solomons Prime Minister, Gordon Darcy Lilo, needs to take the initiative by talking to his Fijian counterpart.
“If it means picking up the phone and talking to his counterpart, so be it. If it means writing to his counterpart, so be it,” he said.
“If it means sending a demarche to Suva with clear decisive direction to resolve the protracted dispute, so be it.”
He says the impasse has heavily impacted on citizens of both countries.

Costly for Solomons
Mr Sasako said the Mr Lilo needed no reminding that the dispute was costing Solomon Islands more than it did Fiji financially as well as in time and irregular flight connections.

“The travelling public is suffering. Any responsible government cannot simply ignore the dispute that is costing its national carrier tens of thousands of dollars each week,” he said.

“Prime Minister Lilo simply has to intervene or he will be remembered for being an uncaring, self-centred and ego-driven Prime Minister rather than anything else.

“This dispute has provided him a golden opportunity to show his political skills in resolving regional conflicts,” he said.

Dispute background
The flight impasse has gone into more than two months since the dispute started off in mid July.

In July, Solomon Islands refused request from Fiji Airways to send a Saturday flight Nadi-Honiara in addition to a weekly Nadi-Port Vila-Honiara flight.

Fiji said the Solomons Government intervened in the negotiations between the airlines, and had breached agreements.It responded by disallowing any Solomon Airlines from Honiara into Fiji until the issue was resolved.

 




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