A government delegation will travel to Fiji to negotiate the long dispute between Fiji Airways and Solomon Airlines early next month.
The impasse between both countries’ aviation authorities started in July, after Solomon Airlines refused to grant a request from the Fiji Airways for an extra Saturday flight beside its Tuesday schedule.
As a result both authorities have since cancelled all international flights between Honiara and Nadi, causing disruption to travellers between the countries and also Vanuatu.
Director of Civil Aviation, George Satu said the government has seen the need to resolve the impasse in the Melanesian way to allow normal flights between Fiji and Honiara again.
Mr Satu said the government has delayed the negotiation because of the recent elections in Fiji.
“Now that Fiji has a democratic elected government in place, we will go to negotiate the issue.
“I believe from this meeting with the Fiji government, we hope to resolve this impasse,” he said.
Former diplomat, Milner Tozaka claimed the impasse between Fiji Airways and Solomon Airlines was payback for Solomon Islands not supporting Fiji’s candidate for Secretary General of the Pacific Islands Forum.
Therefore, he encouraged the Solomon Islands government to apologise in a bid to solve the stand-off.
However, Mr Satu said the airlines issue has nothing to do with politics, because it started before the Palau meeting.
He said it’s an operation matter where Civil Aviation refused an extra flight for Fiji Airways.
“Its a clash of regulatory functions because in Fiji, the Minister has the power to issue a permit for extra flight while in Solomon Islands, it’s the Director of Civil Aviation.
“Therefore, when the impasse come about, the government could not negotiate with Fiji Airways because the Fiji government was still rule under the military regime,” Mr Satu said.
The government’s delegation that will travel to Fiji includes ; Attorney General Billy Titiulu, Solicitor General Savenaca Banuve, Permanent Secretary of Ministry of Communication and Aviation Francis Lomo and Mr Satu.
By EDDIE OSIFELO