SOLOMON Airlines made history, Monday, when it launched its new direct route between Honiara and Sydney.
To commemorate the new service, the airline invited a local delegation on the maiden flight and introduced them to what Sydney has to offer for the nation’s tourism industry.
The airline’s manager commercial Gus Kraus said opening up the Honiara-Sydney route was a milestone for Solomon Airlines.
“This new direct service marks a significant development for Solomon Airlines and Solomon Islands, which will chart a new direction in tourism,” Mr Kraus said.
Minister for tourism, Bartholomew Parapolo, who was part of the delegation that was flown to Sydney and back, spoke highly of the initiative.
“This new direct service is in line with the government’s policy to promote tourism in the country,” Mr Parapolo said.
“I wish to thank Solomon Airlines for the initiative, which I believe will go a long way to bringing in more tourists into the country,” the minister added.
The initiative comes at the back of the recent stronger and close cooperation between Solomon Airlines, Solomon Islands Visitors Bureau (SIVB), and the tourism ministry.
These three bodies have been working closely together on various initiatives aimed at developing the tourism industry and bringing in more overseas tourists into the country.
SIVE chief executive officer Josefa Tuamoto hailed the new Honiara-Sydney route as a major step towards further developing the tourism industry.
He praised Solomon Airlines for seeing it fit to introduce the new route.
Solomon Airlines board chairman Denton Rarawa said this new service is part of the building-block towards the development of the country’s tourism industry.
Director of Civil Aviation George Satu described the new service as a great initiative and urged Solomon Airlines to build on it to promote Solomon Islands in Sydney.
“I think we’ve reached a good market, which is also a good connection for Asian and European tourists,” Mr Satu said.
He added members of the Chinese community in Honiara who travelled frequently to Sydney via Brisbane would be happy to see the new route.
In Sydney, the management of Sydney Airport Corporation welcomed the new service.
The airport’s managing director and chief executive officer Kerrie Mather said:
“This is great news for Australian business and leisure travellers, as well as those visiting family and friends.
“This new route has been well-timed to offer a direct service from Sydney to Honiara for travellers looking for a tropical winter getaway.
“It also provides more choice for passengers, expanding Sydney Airport’s network of international destinations from 44 to 55.”
Solomon Airlines is using its Airbus A320 on the new route.