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Virgin adds extra Port Vila services after Air Vanuatu collapse

written by Jake Nelson | May 13, 2024

A Virgin Australia 737-800, VH-YIU, on arrival in Port Vila, Vanuatu. (Image: Virgin Australia)

Virgin Australia has increased its services between Australia and Vanuatu in the wake of Air Vanuatu entering voluntary liquidation.

A spokesperson for Virgin confirmed to Australian Aviation that the carrier will fly five times per week from Brisbane to Port Vila, up from twice per week, for the remainder of May and June at the request of the Australian Government. Virgin is the only other airline to fly Australia to Vanuatu.

“We were saddened to learn of Air Vanuatu being placed into liquidation,” the spokesperson said.

“Additional flights went on sale Friday 10 May and commenced from last weekend, with the first incremental service on Sunday 12 May. From today (Monday 13 May), Virgin Australia will operate 5 regular flights per week on Monday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday.”

Additionally, Virgin is seeking to fly an additional seven services per week between Australia and Vanuatu using its 737 fleet, and has applied for an allocation of 1,304 seats per week, which will allow it to boost its frequency and go from 176 to 182 seats on its reconfigured planes.

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“Virgin Australia has simultaneously applied to the International Air Services Commission to increase our allocation of seat capacity between Australia and Vanuatu, with plans to quickly commence a further seven weekly services from east coast gateways into Vanuatu, supporting continued connectivity with our Pacific neighbours,” the spokesperson said.

Air Vanuatu, a codeshare partner of Qantas, entered voluntary liquidation earlier this month, with liquidators Ernst & Young saying they hope to resume services.

“The liquidators have taken control of the business today and will conduct fleet safety and maintenance checks before the resumption of normal operations,” said Ernst & Young in a statement last week.

“The liquidators intend to resume normal trading as soon as possible, while considering all opportunities to place the carrier on a stronger footing.

“Affected travellers will be informed of this disruption and rebooked on flights as soon as operations resume. The existing management team will remain in place and will work closely with the liquidators through this process.”

Air Vanuatu codeshares with Qantas on daily flights from Sydney to Port Vila, four flights per week from Brisbane to Port Vila, and three flights per week from Melbourne to Port Vila, as well as weekly services from Brisbane to Santo operated for Air Vanuatu by Solomon Airlines.

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