Pacific news in brief for June 28

Vanuatu/Solomon Islands – flights

Solomon Airlines is starting a weekly return flight from Brisbane to Vanuatu’s Espiritu Santo island from 4 July.

The airline said the flight reopens an important direct route between Australia and Vanuatu.

Air Vanuatu entered voluntary liquidation in May and all flights were grounded.

Vanuatu Tourism Office chief executive Adela Issachar Aru said the direct weekly service to Santo from Brisbane is “a welcome development in re-establishing our aviation connectivity”.

Solomon Airlines also flies from Brisbane to Port Vila via Honiara and back twice a week.

Fiji – strategy

Fiji’s deputy prime minister Professor Biman Prasad has launched the National Counter Narcotics Strategy 2023-2028, at the National University’s Nasinu Campus.

Prasad said the illicit drug trafficking business has evolved dramatically over the years and has exacerbated other challenges the nation is dealing with. reported areas covered in the strategy include prevention efforts targeting children and young people.

Mr Prasad said the growing illicit drug problem is driven by a combination of factors, including the country’s strategic location in the Pacific.

Samoa – dispute

Twenty men from Samata and Fagafau in Savaii have been charged by police for their alleged involvement in a dispute between the two villages.

The Samoa Observer reported Police Commissioner, Auapaau Logitino Filipo told media the men are facing multiple charges for allegedly throwing stones and using threatening words.

They are due in court on 23 July.

Police reported the conflict between the villages is suspected to have stemmed from a Land and Titles Court decision.

Meanwhile, a 50-year-old man from Fagafau has been charged with murder after the dispute led to the death of a Samata man.

Guam – airfares

Guam’s Congressional Delegate James Moylan is trying to pass a law aimed at reducing airfare costs.

Airfares between Guam and Saipan can cost up to US$500, and it reaches the thousands when flying to other places in the continental US.

Current federal law doesn’t let foreign airlines fly passengers or cargo between US cities to protect domestic interests from foreign competition.

Only United Airlines offers flights between Guam, the Northern Marianas, and Hawaii, and they are notoriously expensive.

Delegate Moylan’s proposed legislation, first introduced to Congress last week, would let foreign airlines fly from Guam to other US airports, with the goal of making plane tickets cheaper and giving people more travel options.

The Northern Mariana Islands Congressional Delegate is also supporting this measure.

New Zealand/Pacific – relations

New Zealand’s Foreign Minister Winston Peters is leading a high-level political delegation to Solomon Islands, Nauru and Niue starting on Monday.

In a statement, Peters said major regional issues will be on the agenda, including the unrest in New Caledonia.

Peters will be joined with Minister of Police and Emergency Management Mark Mitchell, Chair of the Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Committee Tim van de Molen as well as opposition members, including Damien O’Connor and Jenny Salesa from Labour and Green MP Teanau Tuiono.

Peters said New Zealand’s relationships in the Pacific is fundamental to foreign policy and he’s determined to continue strengthening them.

He said there is interest and commitment to the Pacific across New Zealand’s Parliament.

According to the news on Radio New Zealand

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