Update: 4:22PM AIR Kiribati and Solomon Airlines have signed an agreement establishing a new aviation service linking Tarawa with Honiara in the Solomon Islands, Brisbane in Australia and Nadi in Fiji.
The agreement holds even more significance for the Kiribati national carrier which recently relaunched as an international airline following a decision by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) to provide the carrier with its official two letter designate code - IK.
At the official signing in Tarawa, Kiribati Minister for Transport, Information, Communication, and Tourism Development Willie Tokataake heralded the signing as important both in its capacity to significantly boost aviation access into Kiribati and also build on both countries' existing strong links.
"There is no doubt this new agreement will boost economic development opportunities and in particular tourism and export opportunities for Kiribati," Mr Tokataake said in a statement from the airline.
Solomon Airlines CEO Brett Gerbers welcomed the agreement saying the signing was an important step for both airlines and would play a key role in forging an even closer relationship with Kiribati.
"Our partnership with Air Kiribati is an important one and we very much look forward to working together to see this become a success. This service is more than just a link between two nations - it is also an avenue for both nations to grow and prosper as we walk forward together," Mr Gerbers said.
Air Kiribati CEO Tarataake Teannaki said his airline was excited to be working with an airline partner that understood the travel needs of both the Kiribati people and Air Kiribati.
"This service will be a major step up and will give the Kiribati people new options to travel beyond our islands," Mr Teannaki said.
Service start date and the service schedules will be announced in coming weeks with an official launch to be held in Tarawa.
The development builds on an agreement signed last November for a new Air Service Agreement (ASA) and Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the Solomon Islands and Republic of Kiribati.