FijiLive: FIJI’S Minister for Public Enterprise Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum says there appears to be a move to sabotage efforts to resolve the impasse between the Fiji Airways and the Solomon Airlines.
Responding to Member of Opposition Semesa Karavaki in the House yesterday, Sayed-Khaiyum said the Fijian Government remains keen to resolve the issue.
“We are still very keen, we would like to fly back to Honiara,” Sayed-Khaiyum said.
“I suspect what was happening is that there are some people sitting at the Solomon Airlines, that are probably sabotaging this issue but you know we’re quite keen to resume the flights and we very much want to do that.”
Sayed-Khaiyum said the Fijian Government want the issue resolved for the benefit of many Solomon Islands students in Fiji and trade between the two countries under the MSG agreement.
He also confirmed the breakdown of an attempt to resolve the issue at a meeting in Suva last month after the Solomon Islands Government delegation pulled out of an MOU signing because they did not agree with it.
Sayed-Khaiyum said when the Solomon Islands Government representatives came to Fiji to meet with their Fiji counterparts, they had agreed to return to the agreement they had been using but the Solomon Islands delegation later declined to sign the MOU.
“However we’ve always been reaching out to them and this year in November , we had a meeting in fact I chaired that meeting and we had representatives from the Solomon Islands government, the high commissioner, the director of the civil aviation and the solicitor general, we then came to an agreement to go back to what we had and when they came back the next day, in fact they didn’t come back they had telephoned from their hotel I understand here in Suva, they said Honiara has not agreed to this.
“So we went back to the stethoscope unfortunately we had to.”
The agreement saw Fiji going through Vila to Honiara from Nadi and can have direct flights to Honiara as well with the Solomon Airways flying to Nadi direct.
Sayed-Khaiyum said the flying of Fiji Airways to Honiara through Vila was done through the request from the Solomon Islands government.
And he maintains the other side breached the agreement.
“Unfortunately there’s been a fault breakdown in negotiations in fact a breach by the Solomon Islands government regarding the ASA’s (Air Service Agreement) we have in place between Fiji and the MOU that had taken place before the ASA’s had taken place,” Sayed-Khaiyum said.
He said the agreement related to the Fijian government and the Solomon Islands government’s rights to three flights a week from Nadi-Honiara or both airlines.
“It’s Air Pacific or Fiji Airways, and for them it’s Solomon Islands Airways, they are a one craft airline, they only have one airline for international, they have only one A320 and have the rights to fly from Honiara to Fiji and we have the right to fly Nadi- Honiara for three times.
“Now in 2010, there was an MOU that was signed between the Fijian government and the Solomon Islands government in which the Fijian government through Fiji Airways flies Nadi-Villa-Honiara, and back tracking that way and fifth landing rights which is the fifth rights.
“So they continued with that, we weren’t doing Nadi- Honiara we were doing Nadi-Vila-Honiara, they were flying Honiara-Nadi so that relationship was in place.
“We of course have the right to have direct flights from Nadi to Honiara because of their request we have Nadi-Vila-Honiara.
“Now in 2014, June, the Solomon Islands said let’s have a review the ASA and we said its fine.”
Sayed-Khaiyum said that it was only during the review that the Solomon Islands refused the Fiji airways on two occasions to fly direct from Nadi to Honiara.
“We had the rights to fly from Nadi to Honiara direct and we were refused on two occasions a plane full loaded of people and cargo for us to fly from Nadi to Honiara despite negotiations being going on, despite the fact that we have the legal right to do so under the ASA so we said please stop doing that, they continued to do that , we continued to fly Nadi-Vila-Honiara and when they did it the second time, we said we’ll stop you from coming in because they stopped also the Nadi-Vila-Honiara .”
Sayed-Khaiyum said the steps taken by the Solomon Islands undermined the Fiji Airways and indeed undermining Fiji.