Solomon Airlines acquires second aircraft
Solomon Airlines has purchased its second international aircraft through lease and is scheduled to arrive on the 27th of this month.
Solomon Airlines Board Chairman Frank Wickham confirmed during the Business After Five event held in Honiara yesterday.
The lease purchase is for 8 years which will cost USD210 000 per month.
Speaking to SIBC News Mr Wickham admitted that a risk analysis report of the aircraft was presented to the government before it was approved for purchase.
“We looked at all the risks and the mitigation measures we can put to address the risk should they emerge, and we shared that with the banks as well and with our owners. We are confident having a backup plan for the airline is good, the national air carrier is now in a strong position to move forward, “he said.
Mr Wickham said the current demand for commercial and charters has placed Solomon Airlines to purchase the aircraft at the right timing.
“The relationships we are doing now like partnering with Air Vanuatu and now Samoa support for similar arrangements, now these airlines suffered during the covid-19 pandemic, they lost a lot of money they’re rebuilding but they are happy we have also come forward to offer the services of the second airbus, so commercial runs we are confident we can deliver and also provide the service of charters and leases to other countries.”
Mr Wickham said some chartered bookings for AIRBUS A320 had to be dropped and not considered due to the aircraft’s commercial flight schedule which forced the airline to lose out on one of its revenue sources.
“We are not coming here with that second plane only, we will be flying everywhere, Air Nauru is a small country, and it has 7 planes they’ve got their strategic business plans working out well so for us we want to maximize the use of the second airbus with charters and leasing it to other countries to use. Now I’m confident that in Samoa they are anxious they are waiting for our commercial offer now to go into a partnership and in China we are still negotiating, that it’s quite challenging but it’s another opportunity.”
Mr Wickham also gave the assurance they are ready for competition in the commercial front as Quantas announced it will resume its direct flights into the country in October.
“On the competition front I can say it’s all healthy competition, Quantas will be flying into the country but it’s a smaller plane, maybe they’re testing first then later bring in a bigger plane, we are informed they’ve put their airfares just below ours with this we’re looking forward to loyalty to because Fiji airways is cheaper than us but our plane gets filled up more than then them and also back in the 90s and 2000s Virgin flew in and they were providing competition for 8 years over and Solomon Airlines still continued, so were not scared of competition,” Mr Wickham said.
Solomon Airlines reported they have seen a steady increase in passenger numbers for both the domestic and international operations in the month of June.
Passenger numbers recorded exceeded the June 2019 pre-Covid numbers.
Mr Wickham said that because of growing passenger numbers, the airline’s revenue is also steadily climbing.
By Sharon Nanau