22 June 2020
Dr. Jimmy Rodgers.

MORE than 300 locals and expatriates are expected to travel back into the country via the two governments’ sanctioned flights next week.

This was revealed on Sundayt by the Secretary to Prime Minister, Dr Jimmy Rogers during the weekly talkback show on the national broadcaster.

Dr. Rodgers said that the incoming citizens are mostly from Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, and Vanuatu.

He said that the first flight is to be from Brisbane and is scheduled for Tuesday 30th June.

The second would be on the 1st of July and is to be from Port Vila and then to Nadi and back.

“Most of the passengers via these two flights are locals who have been stranded overseas due to the COVID-19 pandemic flight restrictions,” he said.

Dr. Rogers further said that apart from the two repatriation flights which will be operated by the Solomon Airline, there is also another flight coming on the 30th   of June.

This UN Tuna Association chartered flight will bring in some of our citizens who are working as Fisheries Observers under the International Tuna Industry.

Dr Rodgers also revealed that the government is making arrangements with their New Zealand counterparts for another flight purposely to bring in PPEs for the country. 

The actual date for this New Zealand flight will be finalised next week.

Meanwhile, this paper understands that more than 150 people who’ve spent the last 14 days in quarantine have already been released with the exception of seven.

Chairman of the Camp Management Sector committee Karl Kuper said they are ready to welcome the more than 300 people that will be arriving next week.

He said that there is enough room at the designated quarantine centres to accommodate the in-coming returnees. 

Next week’s flight is being made possible following approval from the Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, and Fiji Governments.

The service will see Solomon Airlines operate a series of repatriation flights on Tuesday 30th June and Wednesday 1 July, linking Vanuatu, Fiji, and Australia with the Solomon Islands.

The flights are open to eligible travellers only including:

- Solomon Islands citizens residing overseas who wish to return to the Solomon Islands;

- Foreign nationals residing in the Solomon Islands who wish to return to their home countries;

- Foreign passport holders who have the approval to enter the Solomon Islands in transit to Australia;

- Solomon Islands citizens are able to travel assuming they meet all foreign requirements;

- Non-Solomon Islands citizens will be able to travel providing they have formal approval granted by the Solomon Islands Prime Minister’s Office.

According to the proposed schedule on Tuesday 30 June, Solomon Airlines Flight IE676 will depart Brisbane at 1.30 pm, to land in Honiara at 5.45 pm.

On Wednesday 1 July Solomon Airlines Flight IE677 will depart Honiara at 9 am arriving in Port Vila at 11 am. The flight will re-depart Port Vila at 11.45 am to arrive in Nadi at 2.15 pm.  

Solomon Airlines Flight IE678 will then depart Nadi at 3.15 pm arriving Honiara at 5.15 pm. Flight IE679 will depart Honiara at 6.15 pm arriving in Brisbane at 7.30 pm.

The airline requests that all interested passengers book as early as possible to allow time for passport checks, required approvals, or exemption applications.

Solomon Airlines aid the 30 June Brisbane to Honiara flight sector has been fully allocated and no available seats remain. 

“Solomon Airlines is considering additional flights on this route in the near future, subject to Solomon Islands Government approval,” the Airlines said.

Solomon Airlines advises that all flights will comply with the COVID-19 regulations and requirements of the relevant countries. Solomon Airlines crew wear facemasks and gloves for the duration of service and catering will be minimal to reduce contact between passengers and crew.