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HONIARA, Solomon Islands (Solomon Star, Aug. 18) A former senior captain of Solomon Airlines has warned of massive exodus of pilots from the national carrier as many of his former colleagues are now heading to Papua New Guinea.

Captain Gibson Galo, who is now the chief pilot of Air Link in PNG told Solomon Star that the airline’s move to cut local pilots’ salaries by 50-60 percent has now resulted in local pilots leaving the country.

He feared that by the end of the year Solomon Airlines would have only one local pilot left as everyone was planning to leave their job.

Captain Galo took up his new job in PNG after more than three years of waiting to be employed by Solomon Airlines.

He said he had waited for so long for an offer from Solomon Airlines but it was not forthcoming.

"When they did not take me I decided to take the job even though I was reluctant to take-up the job. I always wanted to serve my country but when certain people don’t like me then I can’t do much," Capt Galo said

Captain Galo comes from Choiseul Province.

He said since he joined Air Link, many of his colleagues from Solomons have now joined or about to work with other airline companies in PNG.

Already captain Gary Laka and Captain Chris Tepaika have joined airline companies in PNG.

Capt Galo claimed Captain Cornelius of Guadalcanal, Captain Rove of Western and Captain Elizabeth Ramoni of Malaita are on their way to PNG.

Captain Galo said there was a huge interest shown by PNG airline companies to recruit pilots from the Solomons.

He said the underlying factor behind this is that the airline has significantly cut the salary of the pilots.

Captain Galo, who was among the first local qualified pilots in the country, said what also upset them was the airline was willing to recruit foreign pilots and pay them on expatriate level salaries while the local pilots’ pay was significantly cut.

He said the local pilots are just as good as the foreign pilots and he did not see why they have to be paid differently.

Besides that Capt Galo said the airline would be financially troubled if it recruit overseas pilots because they would be more expensive.

He called on the government to seriously consider the fate of the airline by considering the plight of the local pilots.

Friday, August 19, 2005

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