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Fiji engages Solomon Islands in flight fight

FliFlights between Fiji and Solomon Islands by the two countries’ national airlines have remained suspended due to disputes over flight times. Solomon Island authorities say Fiji started the dispute when it banned Solomon Airlines from Nadi International Airport on 11 July. Fiji on the other hand claimed it only did so after its proposed new direct flight to Honiara from Nadi every Saturdays was blocked by the Solomon Islands Civil Aviation Authority. “Civil Aviation Authority of Solomon Islands (CAASI) is aware that Fiji Airways has applied to operate a second service to Solomon Islands on Saturday’s beginning in July 2014,” said George Satu, Director of Civil Aviation Authority of Solomon Islands.

“CAASI, being the Regulator in Solomon Islands had duly notified Fiji some months back that this particular service was not approved based on slots and some common understanding that two jet services on a Saturday to/from Nadi to Honiara was expressly overcapacity on that day. In addition to that, there have been long pending issues of ‘rights’ that needed to be addressed prior to approving Fiji Airway’s request.”

Fiji Airways said in its statement that it only received notification of the rejection of their second weekly service application “less than 24 hours be fore the start of its scheduled Nadi-Honiara direct flights.” Fiji Airways is hopeful that the governments of Solomon Islands and Fiji are able to reach a speedy resolution on this issue for the benefit of air travellers between the two countries, the airline added. Fiji’s Attorney General who is also the Minister responsible for Civil Aviation Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum had said his government was ready to discuss the matter with the Solomon Islands Government. Both airlines are members of the Association of the South Pacific Airlines, which was holding its bi-annual conference in Noumea on the last week of July, but it is not known whether the tit-for-tat flight ban would feature in the discussions.

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