Solomon Islands carrier starts with Beechcraft 18 and Convair

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An ex-Cathay Pacific Airways pilot has launched a domestic airline in the Solomon Islands using a Beechcraft 18 and a Convair 580 and he also plans to operate a Grumman Goose seaplane.

Solomon Islands CAA principal flight standards officer, George Satu, says the carrier has launched operations and the CAA has granted Solomon Islands Seaplanes a temporary license to operate while its air operator's certificate is being assigned.

He says the carrier is operating a Beechcraft 18 and a Convair 580 on domestic routes and it is in discussions to launch services between the Solomon Islands and Bougainville Island, an autonomous region that is part of Papua New Guinea.

Satu says Solomon Islands Seaplanes has a Grumman Goose seaplane undergoing maintenance in Australia and "it looks like December or January" it will be coming to the Solomon Islands. This aircraft type was first developed in the late 1930s.

The seaplane is now in Wangaratta, a country town in the Australian state of Victoria, says Satu, adding that Solomon Islands Seaplanes' owner is Bob Keys, an Australian who is an ex-Cathay Pacific 747-400 captain.

National carrier Solomon Airlines is the main domestic carrier in the Solomon Islands but Satu confirms the former chairman of Solomon Airlines Michael Maina still plans to launch a domestic carrier as does Gary Clifford, the managing director of Brisbane-based cargo carrier Pacific Air Express. This cargo carrier has each week a Boeing 737 freighter going from Australia to the Solomon Islands capital Honiara.

ATI reported on these two potential start-ups early last year but Satu says the two have yet to secure aircraft or an air operator's certificate. It remains unclear when the two will start.