Airline agreement connects Melanesia
Melanesian airlines close deal on partnership and code share arrangement for PNG, Solomons and Vanuatu.
The partnership agreement between the melanesian airlines of PNG, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu has been signed and is now in force.
The MOU will see shared promotion and sales of the three airlines and a codeshare arrangement on a PNG to Vanuatu route via Solomon Islands .
Solomon Airlines commercial services manager Gus Kraus told Koroi Hawkins the partnership is just the beginning and hopefully will expand to include other Melanesian carriers in Fiji and New Caledonia in the future.
GUS KRAUS: Within the agreement we have basically got some, a statement of objectives that we, the three airlines would like to see and in specific obviously the Port Moresby to Vila to Honiara route. Then some general principles about some future mutual benefits between the three airlines and the three countries as far as air services are concerned. So we are all leaning towards the beginning of June to sort of start off our new code share arrangements.
KOROI HAWKINS: And why the new approach? Why is it necessary and what are the benefits for each sort of country?
GK: I think that the principle is that we have been mooting about it for a couple of years now as far as the full Melanesian context is concerned. And it has always been a missing link from Papua New Guinea to Vanuatu so I think it is quite timely that I think Air Niugini might have a little bit of extra capacity and it was timely for them to look at a link between Vanuatu and PNG. And naturally I think that we all know that getting visas from the islands via Australia is getting more difficult. And the constraints are there that if you wanted to pivot through Australia to another third party country its getting more difficult to get visas. So from that angle I think the progress to link Vanuatu and Solomons to PNG into the Asian and broader, further afield market I think it is natural that we link. That we link, we have that link between the countries. So that is part of the equation and PNG has been talking to us, Air Niugini has been talking to us naturally about they have gone from two flights a week to Honiara and they have got now three flights a week and they intend to include the Vila one as the fourth one. So you know obviously that has expanded their business base. So all we want is a share of it though a code share. And so eventually if Vanuatu and Solomons get a air service agreement signed by other asian contenders. Then you can see a code share could go from Vila through to Singapore or Vila through to Hong Kong or Solomons through to Manila or Solomons through to Singapore or elsewhere. Because it forms the basis of consolidating the partnership using both the carriers in the Pacific, melanesian countries and Air Niugini right through to the end destination.
KH: You mentioned Fiji and New Caledonia. What do they think of this and maybe how soon in the future do you think that they might come on board for a further link into Melanesia?
GK: Well I think the first steps first. We as Solomon Islands have to resolve the issues with Fiji. So we are waiting for a new set date for further discussions to ensure that there is some equitable nature between the two countries and the two airlines. As soon as that is sorted out I am sure there will be a contemplation between Air Niugini and Fiji Airways that a linkage for a flight to Fiji by both parties should be on the cards so you know I am not speaking for them but I am saying that is the natural progression from there. And we would like to participate in both events so you know the nature of this partnership has spin off benefits into the future.
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