Air Canada and Solomon Airlines joined forces to airlift medical aids to Solomon Islands

Air Canada and Solomon Airlines have joined forces in airlifting humanitarian cargo consisting of medical grade masks from Vancouver International Airport in Canada to Henderson International Airport in Honiara, Solomon Islands to support the nation’s fight against COVID-19.

Solomon Islands Hon. CG to Canada Ashwant Dwivedi points to part of medical shipment that is being prepared to be loaded into Air Canada cargo. Photo Supplied

British Columbia, Canada-based company, NovoShield donated a total of 16,000 medical grade level 3 masks. The medical aids have been airlifted by Canada’s national carrier Air Canada into Sydney, Australia.  While a Solomon Airlines cargo flight will assist on bringing the humanitarian aid on its final journey from Brisbane into Honiara.

These Made in Canada Level 3 medical grade masks are being provided as a tool to first responders in Solomon Islands for medical teams from the Ministry of Health and Medical Services [MHMS] and members of the Royal Solomon Islands Police Force [RSIPF] to protect them from getting the Covid-19 virus.

In a statement, Solomon Islands Honorary Consul-General to Canada Ashwant Dwivedi said the support from Air Canada and Solomon Airlines jointly speak of unity that these national airlines share during a time of pandemic and the global commitment to the health and safety of every citizen.

“8000 masks are for the direct support of our members of the RSIPF while the remaining masks are to the benefit of the brave women and men at Solomon Islands medical services who continue to provide service to the citizens of Solomon Islands at the height of this deadly pandemic,” Dwivedi said.

“With the news of COVID cases increasing in the Solomon Islands these donations will go a long way. A proper mask along with vaccination is the best safety net for individuals’ ability to defeat COVID-19,” Mr. Dwivedi said.

In a statement both Air Canada and Solomon Airlines have shown their support to this humanitarian response.

“Air Canada and Air Canada Cargo are humbled to help the people of the Solomon Islands with humanitarian aid. The ongoing pandemic requires combined efforts to collectively help” said Sebastian Cosgrove, Director – Global Customer Service at Air Canada Cargo.

Mr. Cosgrove further said that “Working together with stakeholders across BC businesses and the Consulate General of Solomon Islands to Canada, our global network connecting Canada and the South Pacific enabled the transport of this important and critical shipment of humanitarian aid and medical masks needed for first responders in the Solomon Islands,”.

Air Canada has expanded its South Pacific network and has resumed flights from Sydney to Vancouver which will ramp up to 10 flights weekly. The airline will be resuming flights from Brisbane to Vancouver in July with four flights a week and will begin its flights from New Zealand from November 12, with three flights a week between Auckland and Vancouver. Air Canada’s flights provide important freight and cargo links from the South Pacific, in addition to offering Solomon Islanders the ease of travelling to Canada and the rest of North America and beyond from its transpacific hub in Vancouver.

Solomon Airlines, national carrier of the Solomon Islands is also providing logistical support.

“We are very pleased to support the transportation of medical masks from Vancouver, Canada to Solomon Islands via our air cargo facility from Brisbane into Honiara,” Solomon Airlines Chief Executive Officer Mr. Brett Gebers said.

Mr. Gebers said that Solomon Airlines received a request for assistance from the Solomon Islands Consulate General office in Canada for air freight support between Brisbane and Honiara to transport the cargo to its final destination.

“At Solomon Airlines we recognise the need and are committed to boosting this humanitarian effort. We responded positively to the request from SI Hon. Consul General Dwivedi and agreed that we would find space to bring the shipment of medical masks as part of our airline’s support our first responders and frontline workers in the fight against COVID-19,,” Mr. Gebers said. 

“Solomon Airlines will facilitate the delivery of the masks by flying the shipment on the last leg of its journey from Vancouver, Canada,” Mr. Gebers added.

Meanwhile Mr. Dwivedi also acknowledged CEO of Novoshield Mr. Jason Zanatta for his organization’s commitment to support Solomon Islands by providing masks.

Mr. Zanatta in an earlier statement during the handover ceremony said that he is pleased with the support his company had the privilege of extending to the people of Solomon Islands.

“I and my team here at Novoshield are pleased to extend these supplies of Level 3 medical three-layer masks to help support the people of Solomon Islands in their fight against COVID-19,” Mr. Zanatta said.

“At the minimum we would like to commit to an immediate donation, and we look forward to being of assistance in the very near future,”. Mr Zanatta said.

Mr. Dwivedi also took the opportunity to thank the Canadian family who have coordinated the storage and ground transportation of masks to Air Canada cargo export centre in Richmond, British Columbia.

“I take the opportunity to thank Ralph and Elizabeth Merk for their continued support and the storage and transportation of masks to the export facility. This continued support from the Canadian family is a testament that Canadians stand together with Solomon Islanders,” Mr. Dwivedi said.

The donated medical masks are similar to those widely used by Canadian and international medical professionals and carry the highest ratings as it has three-layer protection instead of one layer or two layers. It has a viral efficiency rate of 99 percent, as certified by Canada’s Ministry of Health.

These level 3, three layer medical masks that are on their way to Solomon Islands are all produced in Canada, and carry a seal of approval from Canada’s Ministry of Health, [Health Canada] which has certified the mask to meet or exceed the certification of world standards for the masks  to be used in the medical environment.

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