Air Vanuatu has confirmed it will continue operating flights out of Vanuatu’s main airport even though most Australasian carriers have now suspended service there due to concerns over its runway condition.
Virgin Australia has joined Air New Zealand in ceasing flights to Port Vila, and Qantas has stopped selling codeshare tickets on Air Vanuatu flights to the popular holiday destination. Surface deterioration and debris issues at Port Vila’s Bauerfield International Airport prompted these decisions. However, after receiving an independent assessment of the runway from an Australian company, Air Vanuatu said it is “satisfied the runway is safe to continue jet operations.”
The report “found no sign of any foreign object debris of any size” on the runway, Air Vanuatu said. However, the report also recommended that runway-sweeping operations continue at their current rate until surface repairs are undertaken and that excess water be removed from the runway before landings during heavy rainfalls.
Air Vanuatu said it has been attending daily briefings on the issue with the operator of Port Vila’s airport and the Civil Aviation Authority of Vanuatu. The carrier is “pleased with the swift response of the authorities to increase precautionary measures at our request.”
The airline said it will “continue to share information with overseas carriers, some of whom have not attended any of these briefings nor conducted independent inspections, yet suspended jet services.”
Air New Zealand was the first to suspend flights to Port Vila on Jan. 24. Virgin Australia initially said it would continue to operate there after conducting its own assessment.
However, it later reversed this decision after further review, and suspended flights as of Jan. 30. Virgin says it will work with Vanuatu authorities and plans to resume its Brisbane-Port Vila flight, “as soon as we are confident that appropriate measures are in place.”