Solomon Airlines extends international flight suspension to January 2021

Image: Solomon Airlines

Solomon Airlines yesterday announced a further two-month extension of the suspension of all scheduled international passenger flights, to 10 January 2021. The airline had previously suspended all scheduled international flying until 24 October, 2020.

The airline also confirmed ticketed passengers affected who wish to change to a future date can do so without a change fee, subject to the same booking class being available. Ticket validity extensions will also be provided to affected passengers uncertain about booking their future travel, with tickets automatically being held in credit and valid towards a new airfare for travel until 1 December 2022.

“Due to the fact that we don’t see any relaxation of borders for international travel any time soon, we are unfortunately extending the suspension,” said Solomon Airlines CEO Brett Gebers.

“We are continuing to work with all Governments and responsible Ministries to ensure compliance with all travel restrictions, and we will only publish an international schedule when travel restrictions are eased and we are allowed to resume normal operations.

“In the meantime, we will persevere and we are continuing approved repatriation flights and charters and have conducted extensive reviews of the company’s current finances and potential future operations.

“Regular, scheduled international services are vital to our survival, and while there is no clear timeframe currently for borders opening, we continue to explore the viability of first opening access between COVID-19 free Pacific neighbour countries, observing all relevant travel protocols.”

Mr Gebers said Solomon Airlines’ Helpful Holidays domestic tourism initiative is also continuing.

The airline is working with local industry partners to develop the next phase of holiday offers, to cover travel to the end of the year. The sales period for the current Helpful Holidays programme will be extended from 30 September to 30 October, and travel extended to 30 November 2020.

“As an archipelago nation dependent on international air access, it is vital to ensure the survival of Solomon Islands national carrier,” Mr Gebers said.

“Like airlines everywhere, Solomon Airlines is experiencing a seriously difficult financial situation and there is no escaping the fact that our operation will be smaller for some time to come.

“Our survival at this point depends upon Government support, intermittent revenue from charter flights and reduced domestic flying, as we wait to reopen Solomon Islands borders and begin regular operations again.

“We thank the many people and organisations walking this rocky road with us, for their resilience and confidence in our future recovery, as we endure these unprecedented circumstances.”