14 Mar 2017

Solomon Airlines suspends another domestic service

7:55 pm on 14 March 2017

Landowner disputes have forced Solomon Islands national airline to suspend its domestic service to Santa Cruz in the easternmost province of Temotu.

The suspension of the twice weekly service began on Monday effectively cutting off the Santa Cruz group, which takes weeks to reach by ship.

An airline spokesperson Colin Sigimanu said land disputes, often involving government, were a major issue for the airline because 80 percent of the operational airstrips were either owned or controlled by landowners.

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Photo: Flysolomons.com/ Paul Howard and FNQ Skies via Twin Otter Spotter.

Earlier this year services to Atoifi in East Malaita were temporarily suspended and the main Gwaunaru'u airport on Malaita reopened last year after being closed for almost six years over a dispute.

Mr Sigimanu said the airline hopes the Santa Cruz suspension will end soon.

"It is really an issue that is beyond our control, it is to be resolved between the claimants of the land where the airstrip is located and the government. So once they resolve that issue and they advise us we can resume services back into Santa Cruz, " Colin Sigimanu said.

Mr Sigimanu said there were also at least two other provincial airstrips in the Solomon Islands which have been closed indefinitely because of land disputes.

One of these a new multi-million dollar airstrip on Manaoba in North Malaita has not been used since it was first commissioned in 2013.

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