Following the indefinite cessation of Air New Zealand’s flights to Vanuatu from 24th January 2016, Air Vanuatu will provide almost the only entry opportunity into the tropical holiday destination, with Qantas and Virgin Australia also deciding to stop their services until further notice.
The three airlines have made their decision based on concerns about the deteriorating condition of the runway at the Port Vila Bauerfield International Airport and on-going maintenance issues. Air Vanuatu will continue services for now, relying on a programme of daily inspections and sweeping of the runway. Vanuatu’s economy relies heavily on tourism, especially after suffering badly from damage sustained in Cyclone Pam which devastated the area last year.
In a statement on their website, Virgin Australia have said they will operate a return service between Brisbane and Vanuatu on Saturday 30th January to cater for guests returning to their port of origin. They also provide information for passengers affected by the stoppage of flights regarding refunds, choice of alternative destinations or travel credits.
Although there have been delays for some years with maintenance and upgrade at the airport, it is hoped that the current flight suspensions will spur positive development in this area. There are reports that work could commence soon on the repairs after a World Bank loan for this purpose was approved at the end of 2015. This will help the tourism sector as the runway has the capability and length to accept jets up to the size and capacity of the Airbus A330.