Honiara, Solomon Islands – Tourism Solomons has welcomed Solomon Airlines and Air Vanuatu’s plans to commence operation of an Auckland-Port Vila-Honiara effective 05 June 2023 with CEO (Acting), Dagnal Dereveke saying the move will have significant ramifications for Kiwi tourism to the Solomon Islands.
“This represents a huge development for our tourism aspirations with the new service opening up countless new opportunities for Kiwi travellers to explore our beautiful and culturally rich destination,” he said.
“Previously, New Zealand tourists traveling to the Solomon Islands had to transit through Australia or Fiji, adding additional travel time and costs.
“Now, with the air agreement in place, tourists can travel directly from New Zealand to the Solomon Islands via Port Vila, with a smooth connection onto the Solomon Airlines’ domestic network.”
Pre-COVID, the Solomon Islands welcomed around 2000 Kiwi visitors annually.
Mr Dereveke said with the new more direct air service commencing in early June, given the ease with which New Zealanders will now be able to travel to the Solomon Islands he was confident of a marked increase in Kiwi visitor numbers going forward.
The airline agreement is a further boost for the national tourist office’s aspirations in the New Zealand market.
Late last year it was announced Kiwi athletes’ participation in the forthcoming Pacific Games in Honiara next November would for the first time be beamed live into New Zealand homes, a move Mr Dereveke said was worth millions in terms of primetime TV exposure.
“This will undoubtedly have a positive impact on our tourism industry and from an economic perspective, provide huge economic benefits for our people,” he said.
Confirming the agreement today (27 April) Solomon Airlines said the wet lease agreement was a further phase in an ongoing partnership co-operation with Air Vanuatu.
Effective from Monday 5 June 2023, Solomon Airlines will commence operating a third frequency between Port Vila and Auckland for Air Vanuatu.
The service will depart Port Vila to Auckland on Mondays with return services from Auckland to Port Vila operating on Tuesdays, further complementing Air Vanuatu’s existing on Wednesday and Saturday services.
Solomon Airlines and Air Vanuatu confirmed the airlines are working towards a codeshare operation on the route.
Under their newly penned agreement, Air Vanuatu will also restart direct flights between Brisbane and Santo, in Vanuatu, on Thursdays, with the new route also operated by Solomon Airlines.
Subject to regulatory approval, the new flights will be available for sale through both carrier’s distribution channels from May 2023.