Oh dear.....23 passengers (4 of them in Business) | Australian Frequent Flyer
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Oh dear.....23 passengers (4 of them in Business)

openseat

Active Member
Joined
Jun 1, 2006
Messages
673
Coming back on VA52 (HIR-BNE) recently there were only 23 of us. I support Virgin on this route despite being only Tuesday and Thursday, as it would become an effective monopoly without them. Another passenger said that they are subsidised to keep the flight going, and I did notice that there was a lot of freight being unloaded from the plane in Honiara. ALso there were many more passengers on the flight up. So maybe it's not all bad news.

Previously on this flight when there have been very few, the service has been exemplary. This time, however, the crew's interest was sorely lacking with only the bare minimum effort being made. Surprisingly they even made jokes about there being so few passengers. You'd think if your job depended on good numbers you'd be going the extra. Oh well.
 

henrus

Member
Joined
Jun 23, 2016
Messages
343
Virgin
Platinum
I wonder if the 4 in business were upgrades ?

Seriously though the subsidies and freight must be enough to keep the route going cause the numbers don't look great...

In the year ending June 2018 the BNE-HIR route carried 14,372 passengers total (both directions)). Divide that by 52 and you've got 276 passengers per week / 4 flights (2 in each direction per week) and you've got ~69 passengers per flight.

Given the 737's have got 176 seats that's an average load factor of ~39%.

They also carried 123.9 tonnes of freight (outbound only - there was no inbound freight) so that's an additional ~1.2 tonnes of freight per flight (~30% of a 737's freight capacity).

Maybe it's about time the service is moved to an Alliance F100 just like POM?
 

RisingPhoenix

Intern
AFF Supporter
Joined
Sep 1, 2017
Messages
76
Solomon Airlines were chartering Alliance Fokkers while their Airbus was under repair for some time on this route
 

Andz

Member
Joined
Nov 16, 2016
Messages
112
I have been to the SI twice and loved the weather, environment, people and diving.

I don't understand why a high class resort hasn't been built and more tourists travel there. Its relatively safe since AU provides policing and defence personal.
 

Melburnian1

Enthusiast
AFF Supporter
Joined
Jun 7, 2013
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The March 2019 figures back up Mattg's low load factor claims, but remember in 2019 Easter was in April not partly in March as in 2018.

VA carried 381 inbound and 449 outbound passengers from/to Solomon Islands in March 2019, down 28.6 per cent on March 2018.

Inbound load factor was 27.1 per cent while outbound was 31.9 per cent according to BITRE.

Unimpressive.

The PM Scott Morrison regards maintenance of good relations with Solomons as most important given how mainland communist China is trying to barge in on the Pacific nations, small as some are. He even joked about 'diverting' there when he met Her Majesty The Queen in the last few days in London.
 

Blinky

Active Member
Joined
Oct 5, 2012
Messages
600
I flew back from Bali on VA in March last year and there were about 20 on the plane. I put in a bid to upgrade, and was successful. I would have been better off in Economy where I would have had three seats to sleep on.

Speaking to FAs they were staggered at the low number of pax and could come up with no reason.
 

Mrsfefe

Junior Member
Joined
Nov 5, 2018
Messages
13
We recently flew Fly Solomons BNE to Honiara and it was a really great experience. The ground crew in Brisbane were so friendly and helpful, flight attendants great on both legs, food very good. There is no online checkin, no on board entertainment but who needs it when you have that view to take in as you reach the Islands! There is a short walk/taxi ride between the international and domestic terminals. Our flights also saw a full business class, but a half empty economy cabin. The Solomons is just emerging as a tourist destination, and a beautiful and interesting one at that. English is spoken widely, albeit shyly! We felt completely safe. Phone and internet services are a bit patchy, ATMs are around in the bigger towns, but it is still largely a cash economy. ATM fees are high, we were being charged $70 SBD ($14 AUD) to withdraw $1000 SBD ($200 AUD). Tourist infrastructure is developing but it is still largely a place for Eco tourists and adventure tourists, rather than the Fiji/Bali travellers.
 

Tallfont

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Joined
Jun 15, 2017
Messages
89
Flights
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It will be interesting to see how VA are going now on the POM - BNE route with the change from VA B737 to Alliance F100.
I fly this route regularly and changed to QF around 18 months ago for a variety of reasons. The QF flights almost always seem to have high loadings, especially into POM on Mondays and out on Fridays as expected.
I know a lot of committed VA flyers that have moved over to QF when the B737 became a one class F100.....
 

drron

Enthusiast
AFF Supporter
Joined
Jul 4, 2002
Messages
20,423
I have been to the SI twice and loved the weather, environment, people and diving.

I don't understand why a high class resort hasn't been built and more tourists travel there. Its relatively safe since AU provides policing and defence personal.
Corruption,local enmities.The usual problems.There have been a few attempts at resorts over the years.Most go nowhere.
A shame as it really is a wonderful place.I first visited in 1969 and the Hotel Mendana in those days was better than virtually anything now.Not bad still when we visited in 1981.Totally downhill by 2013.
 

Tamerton

Junior Member
Joined
Jan 17, 2015
Messages
29
We flew to Wellington NZ last week on Virgin and the plane was only half full with lots of empty rows.
It was only 2/3 full on the way home to Sydney as well.
 

jetkins

Newbie
Joined
Apr 6, 2009
Messages
9
Had a similar experience on QF93, MEL-LAX, the week after 9/11. Most folks with flexible travel plans had decided to let things settle down before returning to the skies, but this was the return leg of our vacation, so fly we must.

I have no idea exactly how many of us were actually on board that Jumbo, but it seemed like everyone in cattle class had a 3- or 4-seat row to ourselves; next best thing to a skybed.
 

blaz

Member
Joined
Jan 17, 2011
Messages
104
My guess is that Virgin international flights are not truly full service even though their ticket prices don't always reflect this. Short sighted accountant philosophy ...and the numbers reflect this.
 

henrus

Member
Joined
Jun 23, 2016
Messages
343
Virgin
Platinum
My guess is that Virgin international flights are not truly full service even though their ticket prices don't always reflect this. Short sighted accountant philosophy ...and the numbers reflect this.
In my opinion it's gone backwards...

Before the Air NZ split, those with a full ticket got a bag and a meal (with bread, starter, main and desert) + an open and unlimited bar (any drinks off the buy on board menu except spirits).

Now everyone pays the same price (as what the full tickets once cost) but instead you get a single tray (just the main part of the meal) and one drink from a limited selection (obviously tea, coffee, water and juice is still free)

What annoys me even more is that drinks like a green tea (once free) are now charged at $4 (or something like that) and not that I've ever asked or expect but it would be nice as a VA platinum for them to offer other drinks... after all the cost of a single green tea bag must be less than a can of Great Northern.
 

Tamerton

Junior Member
Joined
Jan 17, 2015
Messages
29
It was much cheaper than Qantas, and for a short flight to NZ I didn't care as long as I got a bag and a meal.
 

openseat

Active Member
Joined
Jun 1, 2006
Messages
673
Corruption,local enmities.The usual problems.There have been a few attempts at resorts over the years.Most go nowhere.
A shame as it really is a wonderful place.I first visited in 1969 and the Hotel Mendana in those days was better than virtually anything now.Not bad still when we visited in 1981.Totally downhill by 2013.
To be fair there are decent small resorts in the Western Province around Gizo. The diving is very good apparently and there are some good surf breaks. The new Solomon Airlines flight to Munda from Brisbane meets this need. It certainly makes it easier to get to the west. I have used it twice already ans saved about $200 compared to transiting in Honiara.
For those who like WW2 wrecks the Shortland Islands are great,though many things are being eaten by coral. Getting there is the difficulty as the flight is not always reliable and infrequent.
 

openseat

Active Member
Joined
Jun 1, 2006
Messages
673
In fact they used Alliances F70's with only 80 seats compared to the normal F100's for the POM route with 100 seats.
I wondered what they were doing while the Airbus was in Singapore for all that time.
The latest Solomons in flight magazine claims they're procuring a replacement for the Airbus in 2020.
 

henrus

Member
Joined
Jun 23, 2016
Messages
343
Virgin
Platinum
The latest Solomons in flight magazine claims they're procuring a replacement for the Airbus in 2020.
Does make you wonder... they're running a 27 year old A320 whilst Air NZ is currently getting rid of their 15 year old A320's (claiming they're too old).

The config they operate is also very dated with just 16 business and 120 economy. I can't think of a single A320 or 737 operator that has a config like that with everyone switching to space saving seats, toilets and a recent trend to have very small business cabins... but then again I guess it doesn't matter when route patronage is so low in the first place.
 

openseat

Active Member
Joined
Jun 1, 2006
Messages
673
Does make you wonder... they're running a 27 year old A320 whilst Air NZ is currently getting rid of their 15 year old A320's (claiming they're too old).

The config they operate is also very dated with just 16 business and 120 economy. I can't think of a single A320 or 737 operator that has a config like that with everyone switching to space saving seats, toilets and a recent trend to have very small business cabins... but then again I guess it doesn't matter when route patronage is so low in the first place.
Both Air Canada (who operated this plane after Canadian folded) and Delta operate older A320s with probably amuch higher utilisation rate.
The interior is really showing its age with dodgy reclining mechanisms and wonky tray tables. The leg room,however, is generous and there are the old school thicker seats. The bathroom is so much bigger than the modern super skinny versions. My only concern is that the registration changed a few years ago fron VH to H4 though I think it's stabled in BNE.
 

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