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Hope for dialogue

Repeka Nasiko
Wednesday, July 23, 2014

NATIONAL airline Fiji Airways hopes common sense will prevail in the flight ban impasse between Fiji and the Solomon Islands.

Responding to a press release from Solomon Airlines highlighting the ongoing suspension of flights from Honiara to Nadi and vice versa, Fiji Airways managing director and CEO Stefan Pichler said publishing press releases was not the best way to lead a dialogue.

"I personally believe that in life, you always write yourself apart, but you talk yourself together," said Mr Pichler.

"So, I think publishing press releases is not the best way to lead a dialogue.

"We hope common sense will finally prevail in the Solomons and the ban on our flights will be lifted. Our reservation teams have worked hard to re-route booked passengers to Honiara.

"Currently, we have stopped bookings for Honiara flights and we use this aircraft capacity on more profitable routes in our network."

In a separate statement, Fiji Airways said it was disappointed Solomon Airlines was not represented at last week's Melanesia Airline and Tourism Forum in Vanuatu.

"All the senior executives of Fiji Aviation and Tourism were present. We could have talked at that point," it stated.

Meanwhile, Solomon Airlines operations and commercial general manager Gus Kraus said Fiji Airways' Tuesday Nadi-Honiara service and Solomon Airlines' Saturday and Sunday Honiara-Nadi services had been effectively cancelled.

"These flights will remain suspended until resolution has been reached between both countries' governments," said Mr Kraus.

"Solomon Airlines has done its utmost to assist those of its passengers affected by this stalemate and in fact across the last two weeks we have continued to offer Fiji-bound passengers with connections via Vila.

"This has cost the airline valuable funds but we have committed these in order to ensure our clients understand that we were doing all we can to get them out of a jam that is not of their doing.

"But we are optimistic both countries' governments will be able to resolve the situation in the shortest time possible."

Questions sent to the office of the Minister for Aviation have yet to be answered.

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