Solomons Minister Reaches Out To Resolve Fiji Air Impasse

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Foreign ministers reported have been in ‘direct contact’

By Eddie Osifelo

HONIARA, Solomon Islands (Solomon Star, Jan. 6, 2015) – Minister of Foreign Affairs, Milner Tozaka has reportedly made direct contacts with his counterpart in Fiji, Ratu Inoke Kubuabola, to resolve the long-drawn air services impasse between the two countries.

This came after he took up his ministerial appointment before New Year.

Mr Tozaka told Solomon Star last night he is treating the standing issue a priority after his appointment

"I am happy with the progress.

"I am expected to come up with further information to keep the public inform in two to three days time of the positive development with my approach to resolve the outstanding issue," he said.

Mr Tozaka added the service agreement was signed between the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of both countries; therefore a solution can be reached between them.

The Solomon Islands government had sent a delegation to Fiji last year to resolve the impasse in two dialogues, but the talks failed to come up with a legally binding agreement.

Tozaka believes through his approach, a positive solution can be reached between the two Melanesian countries.

The impasse, which began in July last year, occurred when Solomon Islands authorities refused a request from Fiji Airways for a direct Saturday flight Nadi-Honiara-Nadi.

Fiji claimed Solomon Islands was breaching an agreement covering this and retaliated by cancelling all existing Solomon Airlines flights to Nadi.

Fiji Airways was operating a Tuesday schedule Nadi-Port Vila-Honiara-Port Vila-Nadi when the impasse started.

In the meantime, Air Nuigini has operated a direct return service between Honiara and Nadi, which started on Christmas last year.

The intervention had relieved the travelling public, who have been forced to travel via Brisbane or Port Vila before connecting to Nadi.

The extra routes have born more costs on them because they have to pay extra money to connect through Vanuatu or an Australian visa to get a connection flight at Brisbane.

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