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Solomon Airlines 'not happy' with impasse talks outcome


Jan 15, 2015 04:29:21 PM

Solomon Airlines 'not happy' with impasse talks outcome Solomon Airlines says it is not happy with the outcome of talks over the airline impasse despite an agreement being reached between the governments of Fiji and the Solomon Islands.

A Solomon Airlines spokesman says the communique agreed to has achieved nothing in terms of fairness and equality because although flights will resume, it still restricts them to the previous approved operation from Honiara via Port Vila to Nadi each Saturday and returning on Sunday.

But, for now, the spokesman says they will honour the agreement with high hopes that further discussions in late January/early February will prevail and their sentiments will be heard.

Furthermore, the airline maintains their position will remain unchanged will continue to seek fifth and sixth freedom rights beyond Port Vila and a point beyond Nadi.

“While Solomon Airlines has been allowed to resume flights into Fiji as of 24 January, the reality is that all we are doing is continuing to operate without fifth or sixth freedom rights on a Honiara-Port Vila-Nadi basis with the issue being rights between Port Vila and Nadi," the spokesman said.

“Fiji Airways on the other hand is being allowed to operate with full fifth and sixth freedom rights.

“Fiji Airways enjoys the right to operate into Honiara via Port Vila, embarking and disembarking passengers on the whole route while we do not have rights from Port Vila-Nadi and vice versa.”

Under the current agreement, the spokesman continued, Fiji Airways also has the rights to operate into Honiara with a second direct return service each Saturday.
"Given Solomon Airlines has been already been operating an Airbus A320 service on the route on the same day, the introduction of the Fiji Airways service had created a situation whereby we have over capacity on the route on a same day basis whereas the rest of the week is unutilised and another flight day could have been selected,” he said.

“In addition to this, given Fiji Airways enjoys fifth freedom rights beyond Honiara to Port Moresby and vice-versa, Solomon Airlines have also sought similar rights to operate beyond Nadi to a further destination but to no avail.

“We currently have nothing beyond Nadi and we want the same fairness and equality to apply to both sides and for Solomon Airlines to be able to operate services to a point beyond."

The airline says it will also seek to further impress to the authorities that two services on one day on  the marginal Nadi-Honiara route are not good, neither to the travelling public nor the economics of both airlines.

“There are other issues on hand that need to be resolved, however we have made the call to get on with the service based on the executed agreement just signed.

“But as the situation stands today, in our opinion, nothing has changed.”

However, according to a Fijian Government statement, it has done nothing wrong and that the airline was merely operating under the terms agreed to in the existing Air Services Agreements (“ASA”) signed "voluntarily" between the two countries.

"Fiji takes its obligations under the ASA, as with other international obligations, very seriously and has fully complied with these obligations," the Fijian Government said.

"At the same time, Fiji expects that those countries which sign ASAs with Fiji will also comply with their obligations. If they fail to do so, Fiji has a clear sovereign right to assert the terms of those agreements."

It maintains that the dispute arose when Solomon Islands refused Fiji Airways permission to operate a second weekly flight to Solomon Islands as set out in the ASA.

"This was in clear breach of the ASA which gives Fiji Airways the right to operate a total of three flights per week to Honiara without the need for further approvals," the Fijian Government said.

"Fiji and Solomon Islands, as sovereign States, voluntarily entered into an ASA, and Solomon Islands has also granted 5th freedom rights to Fiji for the flights via Port Villa. This agreement is clear and unambiguous. And while there was disagreement about its terms on the Solomons side, the dispute was resolved amicably this week, as is reflected in the Joint Communique signed by both countries."

Meanwhile, the Solomon Airlines has confirmed it will resume its services into Fiji next weekend.


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