Dash 8 to return by September or October, current repair costs SBD$18m
National flag carrier Solomon Airlines today announced that its largest domestic aircraft Dash 8 will be returning to the country despite costing the airline millions of dollars in repair.
The current cost for the repair of the Dash 8 is around SBD$18 million, and this is not the final cost as the airline is yet to meet other costs of the repair work.
Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Gus Kraus confirmed this at a media update hosted by the airlines today.
He says the decision to return the aircraft to the fleet was difficult due to the cost for repairs, However, the CEO confirms they have finalised the final payment for its repair today.
“The company through the board has agreed to return the Dash 8 to Solomon Airlines fleet. It’s been a difficult decision only because the cost of repairs has started to creep up, and unexpected findings are found when they open the aircraft and see there are other things that need to be done.
“The last part of the transition to get the Dash 8 back is to get the main landing gear and I’ve been advised that we’ve made the final payment this morning. It will arrive at Perth (Australia) probably in mid- September at the latest,” Mr Kraus says.
He explains that it would take around 10 days to install and test it, and it is expected back into the country in late September or October 2022.
Kraus adds, schedules for the aircraft have already been arranged and it is expected to be fully operational by October.
The CEO further reiterates their acknowledgment for the board’s approval on the return of the Dash 8 to the fleet
“I think it will all go well for the company moving forward, it’s a worthy cause and moving forward with the fleet review we’ll have something to say about that by the end of the year.
“And as part of the direction by the board to have a strategic plan in place, we’re working on that together with the fleet planning exercise,” he said.
Media reports earlier this year alleged that the airlines were planning to sell off the aircraft, and described it as a move to counter the Government’s costly upgrade of regional aerodromes.
However, in its response to that, the airlines clarified that the Dash 8 was not available for sale and that discussions around it was a regular review of the composition of their fleet to see if it would meet expected passenger demands amidst the domestic travel restrictions imposed due to the covid-19 pandemic.
The airlines had also further assured that there would be opportunities to replace the Dash-8 with a more suitable aircraft type.
Solomon Airlines Finance Manager Peter Soqoilo also confirmed today that the current cost for the repair of the Dash 8 is around SBD$18 million. He said the cost is not the final cost as they are yet to meet other costs for repair.
“This includes the two landing gears, so we have to replace both, and it comes at a very big cost.
“So, whatever the government has given us it just goes towards the repair costs.”
The airlines also confirmed that the government has injected around 16 million dollars to them this year with 6 million in March and 10 million dollars in July.
By Eliza Kukutu