Airlines and travel operators future remains uncertain

New Solomon Islands Airbus, the Spirit of Solomon |Phot o supplied.

The $20 million dollar stimulus package to Solomon Airlines might not keep the State-Owned Enterprise operational up to the early next year.

 That is if the COVID-19 pandemic situation in the country and international travel restrictions remain unchanged.  

Solomon Airlines Operations Manager, Collin Sigimanu said, the stimulus package fund will only keep the company operational for a short period of time.

“Airline is a capital intensive business, unfortunately, all our major costs are in foreign currency, and the stimulus package can only sustain us to early next year. The SOE is already facing tough times.” 

He added, special domestic packages have been looked at to generate revenue, however will not be enough to meet the airline’s fixed costs.

Of the 200 employed staff of the SOE, 153 were on unpaid leave, and the staff currently working are all working on half-pay.   

The international travel restrictions have hit hard on global airline operations resulting on international airlines grounded some of its aeroplanes. 

 Currently, Solomon Airlines has suspended all its domestic weekend flights, only operating during weekdays.

Travel operators in the country are also facing tough times.

One of the country’s biggest travel operators, Guadalcanal Travel Service (GTS) revenue has significantly dropped by ninety-five per cent since travel restrictions were imposed early this year.

GTS Supervisor Ida Paikai said all their staff is currently on half-pay and the firms future is uncertain if the travel restriction continues.

The government’s $20 million-dollar stimulus package to Solomon Airlines is given as a 5 million grant and 15 million loans.      

SIBC News understands, the SOPE will end this weekend, (July 25th) and the government is likely to extend it for the next four months.

By Sharon Nanau     

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