Solomon Airlines and Air Vanuatu strengthen collaboration

Baggage is unloaded from a Solomon Airlines aircraft.
Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Two South Pacific airlines – Solomon Airlines and Air Vanuatu – have now taken their cooperation to the next level by stepping up their mutual cooperation.

This is being achieved by establishing a wet lease or ACMI contract as the airlines are now realizing the growth of the post-pandemic era. The two carriers are now working in synergy on their scheduled operations. 

Increased services

As of the 5th of June 2023, Solomon Airlines will start additional operations between Port Vila and Auckland on behalf of Air Vanuatu.

The additional flight will depart Port Vila to Auckland on Mondays with a return flight from the New Zealand city of Auckland to Port Vila operating on Tuesdays. This will be in addition to Air Vanuatu’s already existing flight services on Wednesdays and Saturdays. 

New schedule 

The schedule allows travellers from Solomon Island and New Zealand to travel seamlessly between their countries. Flights from Honiara to Auckland via Port Vila will effectively restart Solomon Airlines’ re-entry to New Zealand via the Auckland Airport hub.

Respectively, Solomon Airlines and Air Vanuatu reiterate that the two airlines will codeshare the operation. 

Moreover, under the inked agreement, Air Vanuatu will also be returning to the Australian city of Brisbane from Santo in Vanuatu every Thursday. The new route will also be flown by Solomon Airlines.  


New services – more benefits

Air Vanuatu CEO, Mr. Joseph Laloyer commented positively on the new agreement stating that the new resurrect cross-border services will bring great benefits to both economies, ranging from economic to social dimensions. 

Importantly, Vanuatu’s Tourism Industry has been severely hampered by the covid-19 pandemic, and is much looking forward to a full-scale recovery. 

Air Vanuatu’s CEO stated: “Developing aviation and tourism in our region, does not need to be a unique and stand-alone mission”

He commented on being interdependent on other airlines:  “We are national carriers with similar responsibilities and aims, we are of similar corporate size, and we are experiencing the same challenges to sustain our operations.”

“With the learnings of the COVID pandemic, the realization is even greater, that cooperation in our region is crucial to the survival of both airlines.”

“At Air Vanuatu, we are very encouraged to embark on this new venture with Solomon Airlines and to build on the long-established collaboration and friendship between us.”

“Engaging each other to support more robust and efficient operations is a very sound strategy and is in fact vital in the new operating environment.” 

He also mentioned that the domestic fleet is already supporting international partners: “Already the addition of Solomon Airlines Twin Otter and crew to support our domestic network is working well, and we are now extending our partnership to international operations.”  

Solomon Airlines CEO Mr. Gus Kraus agreed to the statement made by his counterpart, saying: “There is a strong synergy between Solomon Airlines and Air Vanuatu that extends from fleet to operations, to distribution systems.”

“This new agreement paves the way for us to help each other, whilst still maintaining the independence of each country’s national carrier. We are helping our neighbors and we’re both benefitting, it is only the beginning of opportunities that we can create by leveraging each other’s capabilities.” 

If everything goes according to plan, the new service will be on sale through both Air Vanuatu and Solomon Airlines distribution channels from May 2023. 

Why does this partnership matter? 

Both Solomon Airlines and Air Vanuatu are relatively ‘small’ airlines, as national carriers. The distance between the two islands is 975 kilometers with both nations heavily reliant on the economic activity of New Zealand and Australia.

Hence, this makes the two flag carriers heavily reliant on flights to Australia and New Zealand, meaning they act as competitors which may result in price wars.

Price wars may in the short term increase the load factor, but do not produce healthy financial flow to both carriers, therefore this partnership, shares which airline does best.

This is a trend we see for small airlines joining hands together to avoid unnecessary price wars.

By Indy Udol 5 Min Read
5 Min Read
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