Flights have officially begun from Brisbane to Espiritu Santo, Vanuatu’s largest island.
The first flight from Brisbane to Santo, NF25, operated by Solomon Airlines on behalf of Air Vanuatu, took off at 10:51am on Thursday on board the Airbus A320 H4-SIB (pictured at Townsville in 2020), landing in Santo at 2:03pm local time before returning to Brisbane as NF24 just over an hour later.
The service, announced in April, will fly once a week between Brisbane and Santo. It is the only destination outside Vanuatu from Santo International Airport, which currently sees Air Vanuatu services operating to the capital, Port Vila, and to other islands within the country.
“With Brisbane the only international airport with flights to Santo, BNE will be the world’s gateway for tourists on their way to this South Pacific Paradise,” said Brisbane Airport Corporation CEO, Gert-Jan de Graaff.
“Brisbane is the most connected Australia port to the Southwest Pacific with direct flights to 13 destinations. We look forward to Queenslanders discovering this little slice of international paradise which is less than three hours flying time away.”
Air Vanuatu Acting CEO Joseph Laloyer said the service was made possible by partnerships with the Vanuatu Government, the Vanuatu Tourism Office, and Brisbane Airport.
“This service represents Air Vanuatu’s commitment to ensuring connectivity for our guests, as well as to Santo, its residents, and the entire tourism industry in Vanuatu’s north,” he said.
Capacity between Australia and Vanuatu has been increasing, with Virgin Australia in April also resuming services between Brisbane and Port Vila up to five times weekly.
“This is an important and longstanding connection for Virgin Australia, which started flying between Australia and Vanuatu nearly 20 years ago,” said Virgin Australia chief strategy and transformation officer Alistair Hartley at the time.
“It means Australians now have another wonderful Pacific Island destination just a short flight away and an opportunity to enjoy the unique beauty and culture of Vanuatu. This is also really positive news for Vanuatu, which relies on connections like these as a source of tourism and to connect friends and family across the Pacific.”