Solomon Airlines flights from Brisbane direct to the new Munda International Airport took off again today 6th January, reopening a direct air route from Australia to Solomon Islands Western Province gateway.
Chairman of Solomon Airlines, Mr Frank Wickham said the restart of non-stop flights to Munda is an important step for the airline and for Solomon Islands Tourism. Visitors to Solomon Islands from international markets including Europe, USA and Asia will now be able to fly via Brisbane directly to the country’s Western Province, clearing customs at Munda, gateway to popular tourism destinations.
“The establishment of a second international gateway at Munda has been a long-held ambition for Solomon Airlines and for our government,” Mr Wickham said.
“We successfully reopened the Munda Airstrip in 2019 with temporary airport buildings and commenced Brisbane-Munda direct flights, which necessarily ceased with the onset of the Covid pandemic.
“We are now delighted to be resuming the service, and to be landing at the new Munda International Airport terminal which opened in October last year,” he said.
“The benefits of a second international gateway are far-reaching as we now have two entry points to Solomon Islands, streamlining air access to boost tourism, support easier cargo movement and contribute significantly to economic growth in the Western Province and Solomon Islands,” he said.
The upgrade of the Munda International Airport Runway and airport buildings is a component of a two-phase SBD$1.1 billion SIRAP and Second Solomon Islands Roads and Aviation Project (SIRAP2) implemented by the Ministry of Communication and Aviation (MCA) and financed by the World Bank.
Welcoming the development, Tourism Solomons CEO (Acting), Dagnal Dereveke, said the commencement of the new direct service represents a huge opportunity for the Solomon Islands tourism industry and particularly the Western Province.
“Munda serves as a vital gateway to several key tourism hotspots in the Solomon Islands’ western region, including the picturesque Marovo Lagoon and Gizo, both ‘destinations within the destination’ and both renowned for their natural beauty and rich ‘living’ cultural heritage,” Mr Dereveke said.
“The Western Province offers world-class activities above and below the waterline, from diving and surfing to sports fishing and bird watching, and with a rich WWII history has long proven a magnet for international tourists.
“Our biggest challenge now is to build an accommodation infrastructure in the region capable of managing what we are confident will be increased demand from travellers wishing to explore the west as a result of this extremely progressive step by our national carrier.”
Passengers on the Solomon Airlines flight received commemorative certificates and giveaways to mark the occasion. All Munda-bound passengers cleared immigration and customs in Munda, with the Airbus A320 aircraft then continuing with international passengers to Honiara.
Passengers on board included those flying from Brisbane direct to Munda and those transiting in Munda to Seghe, Gizo and Suavanao on flight connections now offered by Solomon Airlines new domestic schedule.