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Flights resume between Solomons & Fiji as govts call a truce

Solomon Islands and the Fijian government have resolved their six-month diplomatic impasse, which means the islands' airlines can resume flying between the two destinations.

Solomon Islands and the Fijian government have resolved their six-month diplomatic impasse, which means the islands’ airlines can resume flying between the two destinations.

The two governments fell out in July last year after the Solomons turned down Fiji Airways’ request for extra flights to Honiara. Officials said the airport didn’t have the capacity for additional services and Fiji retaliated by turning away an inbound Solomon Airlines flight to Nadi.

This lead to a diplomatic fall-out and the cancellation of flights between the two island-states.

Image: davidelliottphotos/Shutterstock

Solomon Islands are Fiji reach an agreement to resume flights. Image: davidelliottphotos/Shutterstock

According to Solomon Islands Visitors Bureau chief executive Josefa Tuamonto, the disagreement has heavily impacted international visitor arrivals, particularly those from the US market.

Prior to the fall-out, Taumonto said 2014 was already a rough year for the Solomons tourism due to floods in April and civil unrest. However, the impasse was the direct result of a number of accommodation cancellations over the past six months.

“All factors combined, and in the face of everyone’s best efforts to counter the negativity, small wonder international visitation figures slipped into negative growth for the first time in five years.”

Josefa Tuamonto, Solomon Islands Visitors Bureau chief executive

Hoping to restore tourism figures, both sides have agreed to review a Bilateral Air Services Agreement and in the meantime resume flights operations.

As of 24 January, Solomon Airlines will resume its Fiji service and Fiji Airways will return to Honiara on 3 February.

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Looking forward to an upturn in arrivals, Tuamonto said the resolution in addition to plans to push tourism will give the destination a ‘stronger profile in the US and other existing source markets’.

“Despite the negatives across 2014, we have been hard at work establishing a platform, we have an agenda in place intended to see us achieve cut through across 2015.”

Did the fallout between government impact your customers in 2014?