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Huge blow to Solomon Islands tourism

There is a rush to fix the runway of the Henderson International Airport (HIA) as Fiji’s national carrier Fiji Airways has suspended flights to Honiara temporarily.

This move will impact the tourism industry of the Solomon Islands.

In a statement posted by Fiji Airways, the company said that due to operational reasons at the Honiara International Airport, Fiji Airways will temporarily suspend services to the Solomon Islands.

“We are working closely with our partners in the Solomon Islands to try and resume services at the earliest possible,” said the statement.

“Fiji Airways, as well as our selected partners, are dedicated to ensuring our highest standards continue to be met. We will return our service to Honiara as soon as practicably possible.

“Any inconvenience to our valued customers is deeply regretted.”

There is a rush to fix the runway of the Henderson International Airport as Fiji’s national carrier Fiji Airways has suspended flights to Honiara temporarily. Picture: Fiji Airports

According to reports from Honiara, the runway at Henderson International Airport has not been resurfaced for many years and there has been a marked degradation of the surface in some areas.

“Solomon Airlines crews are obviously more familiar with operations from this runway than other carriers and the surface will be evaluated on a daily basis to ensure that any operations carried out are done so safely,” said Solomon Airlines chief executive officer Brett Gerbers to Tavuli News.

Mr Gerbers said Solomon Airlines is working with the Ministry of Civil Aviation (MCA) and Civil Aviation Authority of Solomon Islands (CAASI) to make appropriate temporary repairs so that operations can continue.

Civil Aviation permanent secretary Moses Virivolomo said emergency repairs on the runway had started and they are hoping to get it done within the week.

He said they had had an agreement with the World Bank to carry out emergency repairs to the runway before proper resurfacing starts at the end of the year.

The Solomon Islands opened its borders on July 2 and Fiji Airways services the important route of Nadi to Honiara which links the Solomon Islands to the rest of the world.

Tourism Solomons was pleased to see the resumption of flights by Fiji Airways and saw the move as being critical in US travellers once again having access to the Solomon Islands via Fiji Airways direct Los Angeles – Nadi – Honiara services.

There is a rush to fix the runway of the Henderson International Airport as Fiji’s national carrier Fiji Airways has suspended flights to Honiara temporarily. This move will impact the tourism industry of the Solomon Islands. Picture Australian High Commission Solomon Islands

This weekend, Honiara will be commemorating the 80 years’ anniversary of the ‘Battle of Guadalcanal’ and is expecting an influx of visitor arrivals from as far as Japan and the US.

Following Fiji Airway’s decision to suspend flights, Solomon Airlines have said that passengers were free to book with them as they have an existing schedule between Honiara and Nadi every Tuesday.

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Upgrade and maintenance work on the HIA is underway and it includes a new international departure terminal and the renovation of the existing passenger terminal building for international and domestic operations, as well as new taxiway and lighting for the airport’s apron and an extension to the apron.

An extension will also be made to the airport’s existing power house with the inclusion of a new electrical sub-station, while improvements will be carried out on the terminal road for the international departure terminal.

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