Solomon Islands government signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Papua New Guinea government in Honiara last Friday night formalizing the newly introduced twice a week Air Niugini service from Honiara to Nadi, Fiji.

Air Niugini services to Solomon Islands are provided under the bilateral Air Services Agreement between Solomon Islands and PNG.

The MOU signed by the Solomon Islands Permanent Secretary for Foreign Affairs, Mr Jerry Manele and the PNG High Commissioner to Solomon Islands, His Excellency Parai Tamei, followed the first ever review of the agreement after 17 years by officials of the Solomon Islands and PNG government and Air Niugini.

The Solomon Islands government official representatives at the review held in Honiara last Friday comprised Permanent Secretary Manele, the Permanent Secretary for Communication, Aviation and Meteorology, Ms Nairy Alamu, the Legal Advisor in the Constitutional Reform Unit in the Office of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, Reginald Teutau and Foreign Affairs official, Simon Fuo.

The PNG government was represented by the head of its diplomatic mission in Honiara, His Excellency Parai Tamei and Air Niugini officials led by the airline's General Manager, Mr Dominic Kaumu.

Speaking at the signing ceremony last Friday night, PNG High Commissioner, Mr Tamei said the MOU was a response to the call by the Melanesian Spearhead Group Leaders at their 2005 summit in PNG for a harmonization of air services by the Melanesian bloc.

The Foreign Affairs Permanent Secretary, Mr Manele said the talk Air Services Agreement review talk was successful as the two parties reached a conclusion that would be beneficial to both.

Air Niugini initially provided a twice a week direct service between Honiara and Port Moresby only.

The Communication, Aviation and Meteorology Permanent Secretary, Ms Alamu said the MOU reflected the confidence the Solomon Islands government had in Air Niugini and its services.