15 Apr 2013

Flights to Solomons' tsunami-hit Lata suspended over landowners dispute

2:01 pm on 15 April 2013

Flights to the capital of the Solomon Islands province hit by a tsunami two months ago have been suspended over a land ownership dispute.

Solomon Airlines' general manager, Commercial and Operations, says the airline cancelled its Saturday service to Lata, one of two weekly flights, after receiving a threatening letter.

Gus Kraus says the dispute centres on money, as is common in Solomon Islands, and the landowners' real grievance is with the government.

But he says the airline doesn't take the demands or the threats too lightly and would have needed confirmation in writing from the police that it was safe to fly over the weekend.

"That never came and in fact Saturday morning we heard that the landowners had built a tent on the runway and were looking at planting some sort of plant on the runway somewhere."

Gus Kraus says he will know later today whether tomorrow's flight can go ahead.