SOLOMON ISLANDS TURN TO ‘OPEN SKIES’

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By Robert L. Iroga

HONIARA, Solomon Islands (Solomon Star, April 12) – The Solomon Islands government has adopted an "open sky" policy in order to attract more airlines and promote competition, Aviation Minister Simeon Bouro revealed.

State-owned Solomon Airlines was deeply disappointed when the Solomon Islands Visitors Bureau called for an "open air policy" to lure more tourists two years ago. And the latest Government shift in aviation policy is sure to upset the management of the airlines.

Mr Bouro, who accompanied a new flight introduced to serve Brisbane, Honiara and Pohnpei, publicly expressed his desire for the country to open its skies.

"We are in the age that we have to head that way – an open sky policy – so that there is competition, where there is competition there is better service to our people," the minister to the Solomon Star.

Mr Bouro said the country has yet to fully use its skies to get the maximum benefit.

And in a show of encouraging more airlines to land at the Henderson Airport, the minister said he has plans to land planes heading to Asia and Australia through the Solomons at Henderson.

"Not long there will be links between Japan, Taiwan, Guam through Solomons then go to NZ and Australia. If we can trap that traffic then it will be good for our economy," Mr Bouro said.

The minister said the government is looking at current operators and whether the new operations could complement that.

"We need a lot of operations and see whether they can complement the current structure we have or not," he said.

The Oceania Air is the latest plane to fly through the Solomons making flights to Australia daily.

Solomon Airlines, leasing Air Vanuatu’s Boeing 737 is flying to Australia, Fiji, Vanuatu and recently dropped the Auckland route.

Also operating into Honiara is Air Pacific, Air Niugini and Air Nauru.

April 12, 2005

Solomon Star: http://www.solomonstarnews.com/

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