Solomon Airlines joins repatriation exercise

A Solomon Airlines aircraft has repatriated more foreign nationals who were resident or stranded in Samoa back to their home countries.

An Airbus A320 belonging to the Solomon Islands’ national carrier touched down at the Faleolo International Airport after 2pm [Samoa Time] on Sunday and picked up passengers travelling to Vanuatu, Solomon Islands, Papua New Guinea [PNG] and Australia.

The plane’s first port of call after leaving Samoa on Sunday afternoon was Vanuatu before leaving for Honiara, Solomon Islands on the same afternoon. Papua New Guinean passengers overnight in Honiara, before travelling to Port Moresby on Monday 9am [Solomon Islands Time] with Brisbane the final stop of the charter flight.

It is understood some of the passengers were students at the Australia Pacific Training Coalition [APTC] who had completed their six-months training programs and were stranded in Samoa, due to the cancellation in international travel brought on by the COVID-19 global pandemic in March this year.

The Solomon Times newspaper reported that the repatriation service by the aircraft between August 23-24 will cover Australia, Solomon Islands, Samoa, Vanuatu and P.N.G. and is a “private charter” with all the flights complying with the COVID-19 safety regulations and requirements of the respective countries.

The newspaper added that no passengers will be accepted to join the flight during the brief stopover in Port Moresby on Monday with all Solomon Airlines crew and transit passengers – who would mainly be returning Australian citizens or residents – remaining on the aircraft before leaving for P.N.G. for Brisbane.

Samoa, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu are currently COVID-19 free except for P.N.G. with the World Health Organisation [WHO] reporting on Sunday that the country has so far recorded 361 total cases with four deaths.

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