Vanuatu is in real trouble! The country has not yet recovered from the deadly effect of Cyclone Pam and is currently operating without any government. To make the situation worse, airlines decided to pull flights, which is a mighty blow to the country that mainly relies on tourism.
Air New Zealand made an announcement on Friday pointing out the unsafe conditions of the international runway at Port Vila as the reason behind their decision of pulling flights from Vanuatu. The airline flies from Auckland to Vanuatu once a week and codeshares with Air Vanuatu on two flights per week.
The airline brought back all of their customers by running one more return service on Sunday. Passengers who booked directly with Air New Zealand will have a full refund or the opportunity to change their booking to another Pacific or Tasman destination. Those who booked through a travel agent will have to contact with their travel arranger to know about their options.
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Just after the pull-off announcement from Air New Zealand, Qantas followed their step and suspended its codeshare agreement with Air Vanuatu because of the gradually deteriorating condition of the runway at Port Vila.
However, Virgin Australia will continue their flights following a review of the airport conducted by their safety experts. News.com.au quoted their spokesperson who said, “Following this review, we have concluded that currently our aircraft can continue to safely operate in and out of Port Vila.” However, they will declare immediate termination of operations if the condition of the airport is found risky.
A statement released by Air Vanuatu confirmed that they are working with the Civil Aviation Authority Vanuatu and airport officials to devise a safety plan so that that the flights can continue. They have also taken extra safety precautions that will be in place until permanent repair of the airport.
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The flight cancellations will affect the tourism business and local tourism operators have already voiced their concerns. Bryan Death, the president of Vanuatu Hotel and Resorts Association, told 3News that the pulling off flights by airlines would be worse than the cyclone.
Vanuatu is yet to recover from the deadly effects of Cyclone Pam that did massive harm to homes, crops, and water supplies in March.