While Air Vanuatu plans to maintain jet services at Port Vila Airport, the airline’s pilots will have the “final say” on whether the flights will operate.
The Vanuatu flag carrier has kept its Boeing 737-800 flights operating subject to ongoing inspections of the airfield.
Air Vanuatu said on Friday the airline’s senior management, captains and compliance officers have held daily meetings with the Civil Aviation Authority of Vanuatu (CAAV) and Airports Vanuatu Ltd and “remain satisfied the condition of the runway is safe to continue jet operations at present”.
“Our flight captains have the final say should the extra safety measures in place, including daily mechanical ‘sweeping’ of the runway, not meet our standards,” Air Vanuatu said in a statement.
“Air Vanuatu operates under a safety first policy at all times and will continue to do so. Should conditions deteriorate before the planned upgrade of the runway commences, we will review services to Port Vila.
“We will continue to demand daily sweeping and runway inspections and will not depart if our operating crew and compliance officers are not satisfied.”
Air Vanuatu said it had delayed one flight this week after the sweeping of the runway did not meet the approval of the captain operating the flight.
Port Vila’s lone runway, 11/29, is 2,600m in length. A World Bank concessional loan of US$59.5m (A$86.3m) to the Vanuatu Government was announced in 2015 that would include runway resurfacing. However, the work has not commenced.
Virgin and Air NZ’s decision to suspend jet services to Vanuatu come in the same week Air Vanuatu received its first Boeing 737-800 via lease from Air Lease Corporation.
The new aircraft, which was ordered in July 2015, is slated to replace Air Vanuatu’s existing 737-800.
“Our current Boeing 737-800 has served us well but it is time for a newer, more cost efficient aircraft,” Air Vanuatu chairman Johnson Naviti Marakipule said at the time of the aircraft order.