Airlines keeping up with $1.5m monthly aircraft lease despite COVID-19

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Chair Wickham and his senior management team at the press conference today.

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Despite facing COVID-19 challenges, Solomon Airlines is able to keep up with its USD$195,000 (SBD$1.5m) a month lease agreement for the A320 aircraft it currently leases.

Speaking to journalists today, the national carrier’s financial controller, Peter Soqoilo said one of the biggest costs to the airline is its lease commitment of the A320 at a rate of USD$195,000 a month.

Asked how the airline is coping with the lease, Soqoilo said: “It is a bit challenging.” Adding: “We are two months behind.” However, the Airlines board and management underlined that the SolAir is coping well with its lease agreement despite COVID-19 which has grounded many airlines around the world.

Like many airlines, Solomon Airlines is extremely affected by COVID-19 especially its financial ability.

Solomon Airlines had stood-down more than 50 workers last year and those currently engaged had agreed to a 20% pay-cut in their salaries across the board ranging from the CEO to the cleaners.

Solomon Airlines started leasing the new aircraft in early 2020 during the time when COVID-19 began to hit the travelling industry.

Chairman of the Solomon Airlines Frank Wickham said that projection go forward is looking good if the borders are open.

However, right now the airline will continue to experience difficulties but they have taken measures to ensure it keeps flying.

Wickham says that a lot of people are working hard to keep the plane in the air.

One of the key areas the airline now makes money to keep it flying is charters.

CEO Brett Gebers says charter is not a consistent way of earning money but at the same time it is the only option that is available to the airline at the moment as it is not allowed to fly general services.

He pointed out that already this year the airline had made money through charters to China to pick up vaccines to Honiara and Tarawa, Kiribati. Additionally, they also had charters for construction workers to Honiara from China. Additionally, Solomon Airlines’ aircraft had also been chartered by Nauru.

Solomon Airlines also flown seasonal workers from Honiara and from other Pacific Island countries to Australia.

Meanwhile Gebers admits that charters do take a lot of efforts and many of them were cancelled at the last minute, for a number of reasons.

He also admits that because of little movement of flights around the world it becomes so difficult to get parts of aircraft to Brisbane in time to meet Solomon Airline’s weekly flight to Honiara.

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