PELE people on the Reef islands, Temotu Province were so excited to witness the first ever test flight conducted by the Solomon Airline on Sunday 30th September 2018.
Before the Dash-8 aircraft left Honiara bound for Santa Cruz and on to Lomlom, the airport was already filed with people ready to witness the arrival of the test flight.
Speaking to this paper Peter Mateala one of the landowners and member of the task-force based in Honiara who also accompanied the Solomon Islands government delegation during the test flight said he witnessed how the people react after witnessing the test flight.
“Before we landed the people were already been informed through mobile phones and the air terminal was already filled with surrounding communities and islands as far as Pileni as most of them have all have been eagerly waiting for that moment for so long.
“When we landed you can see just from their smiles how the people are so excited.
“The arrival of the test flight to people of Pele is like someone having a deep dive and later coming out of the water and taking a long breath, a breath of relieve,” he added.
Mr Mateala said the flight takes 1 hour 30 minutes from Honiara through to Santa Cruz and to Lomlom.
“From Lomlom we headed straight back to Honiara as we already pick passengers for Honiara in Santa Cruz,” he said.
He said one of the most outstanding part to that airport was when he was asked by the pilot after landing if the pavement runway was tarsealed as it was like landing on the tarmac at Honiara airport.
“I replied said, no it’s compacted with lime stone and he said it’s outstanding, well done,” he said.
He said people were so excited because the establishment of the airline services to Reef islands will pave the way for developments especially with regards to tourism.
Transportation is also one of the biggest problems in the reef islands and many people have risked their lives to cross over to Lata especially teachers who went to get their salaries.
“The cost of hiring out boat motor engine to cross over to Lata is just so expensive compared to the salaries they get and we hope the air service would much cheaper and safer for us,” he said.
By IAN M.KAUKUI