SOLOMON Airlines owned Dash-8 ‘Megapode’ is expected to arrive in the country by next week and will hit the domestic skies serving the national carrier’s main routes as of Monday 10th October.
This was revealed by the Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Gus Kraus, in an interview with the paper yesterday.
The aircraft is currently undergoing final touches before making its way back to Honiara.
“It is planned to be ready and travel by end of September. But we plan to have it back to Honiara by first week October and into service around 10th October if all goes to plan,” he said.
Mr Kraus who recently took over the top position explained that due to other runways not ready, they will continue to serve Munda, Gizo, Kira Kira and Auki for a start.
Other destinations will be added and served once the airports are approved by the Civil Aviation Authorities, he added.
The 36-seater aircraft has spent some time overseas for an annual scheduled heavy maintenance check.
Following crew refresher training and reinduction requirements, the aircraft will re-join the fleet from Monday 3 October.
“The re-introduction of the Dash-8 will allow us to increase capacity significantly to Munda and Gizo, and to improve the efficiency of our operation,” said Mr Kraus said following his appointment as the new CEO.
“Under our new schedule from October, we have ensured that connectivity between our international and domestic flights is as seamless as it can be, especially for key tourism destinations.
“This will also improve access for inbound tourists travelling via our Brisbane and Nadi hubs,” he said.
“As we rebuild our operations, we will continue to monitor demand and assess our fleet to ensure that we manage costs and meet future demand as is appropriate,” he added.
Dash-8 was grounded early this year in January after the COVID-19 community outbreak was declared.
As a result, Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare announced travel restrictions between all the provinces.
All Solomon Airlines aircraft fleet were grounded as services were temporarily suspended.
When Airlines resumed commercial services in April only Twin Otters were used up until now.
Since the reopening of the international borders in July, Solomon Airlines also experienced an influx of travelers.
The return of Dash8 is expected to ease the traveling demand for some of the destinations like Gizo and Munda.
By MOFFAT MAMU