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Air Vanuatu to keep flying at Port Vila

written by australianaviation.com.au | January 29, 2016

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.

By contrast, Virgin Australia and Air New Zealand have suspended flights from Bauerfield International Airport due to concerns over the condition of the runway.

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.

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Comments (6)

  • Steve B


    Vanuatu needs to start operating as a modern nation. I was booked on the first of the cancelled flights last weekend. Despite the best efforts of some in Air Vanuatu, the whole situation was a complete mess. As a very regular visitor to Vanuatu for many years I must admit that, though I have a deep love for the people of Vanuatu, the basics of management capacity, trustworthy and honest leadership and responsible government are as poor as ever. The state of the runway is typical of the complete incompetence that plagues a nation where important position, governance and high-level management is handed to the people on the basis of their family status and power-place within the society. These same “leaders” operate as crafty wheelers and dealers, getting the assistance needed from donor nations (often with disgusting strings attached and personal “incentives”for themselves). In a nation where around 80% of the education budget (AID from Australia and others) never reaches the schools, how else would we expect the Port Vila Airport runway to look? It’s all the same picture. The Howard Government was able to place advisors in important Government Ministry offices, helping with capacity building and transparency. Since then, there has been a very sharp down-turn in service provision and a sharp upturn in corruption and mismanagement. The Chinese have a lot of questions to answer. So do the 18 members of the last Parliament currently in Jail for corruption. All of this is a background to the shameful, but self inflicted state of affairs at Port Vila Airport. Air Vanuatu is a really nice little Airline. I will continue to fly with them. (Not that there is now any other choice). I do believe that the Airline will operate a safe service, offering the same lovely service and friendly disposition, which is what there is to love most about Vanuatu..the Ni Vanuatu people themselves.

  • Ian Jones


    It is an unfortunate state of affairs, following on from the devastation of Cyclone Pam. I have made several trips to Vanuatu, the last 3 being work parties from the Castlemaine Church of Christ in Australia. The team have built a couple of houses in Sara village on Santo Island. We are planning another trip in a few months to purchase equipment for the primary school in Sara village and present it to the school committee. That way we make sure it reaches its intended destination. Vanuatu is a wonderful place to visit and deserves better from its leadership.

  • Denise tyler


    Thanks for your insight. We are scheduled to fly to Port Vila on 5 February but in the absence of any reassuring comment for. Air Vanuatu regarding our safety we are going to candy our trip. Ye, I am betting neither airline nor hotel will want to rim ruse us but our lives are worth more than they seem to think. Sorry, Vanuatu, love you and your people but this is not worth it.

  • Adrian


    Sounds like a good time to go to Vanuatu…not too many tourists..

  • Vannus


    If I was wanting to go to Vanuatu, think I’d take a leisurely cruise.

    Having an unsafe runway appeals to me NOT in the least!

    It’ll be interesting to see what happens this year, 2016, or maybe next, 2017. They’ve been dawdling since March 2015. Typical!
    Will runway be re-surfaced, or will the great policy of manyana be instituted?
    My money’s on the latter, with funds distributed ‘elsewhere’………………………

  • John Connell


    Its hard to believe such a level of incompetence can exist, even in Vanuatu.Thirty five years of independence has seen this country deteriorate alarmingly.I love the place & the people who deserve so much more. As a former investor I am glad I got out when I did. As the New hebrides this was truly paradise,properly administered by the British & French. Those who have been entrusted to Vanuatu should be ashamed .Nothing will change ,they are just not up to it !!

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