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Monday, August 20, 2007

Chairman: 'Should Solomon Islands own an international airline at all?'

By Solomon Star Newspaper, Honiara

Lawyers are now looking into the details of the Solomon Airlines-SkyAirWorld agreement following grounding of the airline’s leased Embraer 170 jet 11 days ago.
The grounded Embraer 170 jet at Nadi Airport during one of its trips in June

New Solomon Airlines Board Chairman Rick Hou – who is in charge of reviving the struggling airline -- said the airline’s finances continue to bleed.

Hou, the Central Bank of Solomon Islands Governor, told the Solomon Star: “People can put it in any way; the fact is Solomon Airlines does not have enough money to pay all those bills.

“SkyAirWorld was demanding a substantial amount of money, which the company does not have, so you really can’t squeeze blood out of stone.”

Meantime, Solomon Airlines is chartering a Boeing 737-200 from Australia’s OzJet and working with other airlines to maintain international services.

Hou said the airline’s finances are like somebody who tries to stop water from going out of their hand.

“I might use water, which you try to control in with your hands. You try and control it from coming on one side but it will still get out in many directions,” he said.

Hou said the new board is looking at options to address the problems.

He said it would put the options together and give them to the Government, the airline’s owner. The Government will then make the final decision.

Hou said one of the things that must be decided is whether “we should own an international airline at all.”

“That I don’t think is a matter for the airline board to decide on,” Hou said. “In my opinion, if we can’t manage why should we?

“Again, in my opinion, the international sector is an area where we can make money out of it without actually owning an airline.”

Source: Pacific Magazine

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