Air Vanuatu goes into liquidation, thousands of passengers stranded

Consultants overseeing process say they hope to get the airline’s four planes back in the skies as soon as possible.

An Air Vanuatu plane pictured at Sydney airport
State-owned Air Vanuatu has four planes in its fleet [File: Dean Lewins/AAP Image via AP Photo]

Air Vanuatu, the national carrier of the Pacific Islands nation of Vanuatu, has gone into liquidation a day after it cancelled all flights leaving thousands of travellers stranded.

More than 20 flights to and from the Australian cities of Sydney and Brisbane, as well as the New Zealand city of Auckland have been cancelled, with the airline blaming “extended maintenance requirements” on their aircraft.

EY, the international consultants appointed by the government to oversee the liquidation, assured travellers stranded in Vanuatu that it hoped to get the company’s small fleet of planes back in the sky as soon as possible.

They said they were working with the airline’s management to resume normal operations after conducting safety and maintenance checks, but could not provide a date for when that might be.

Air Vanuatu operates four planes between the country’s islands, which rely heavily on tourism, and to Australia, New Zealand and other South Pacific island nations.

EY said its appointment followed a challenging period for the global aviation industry, including labour shortages, as well as rising operating costs and disruption from extreme weather. Tourism accounts for about a third of the country’s economy, according to the Australia Pacific Islands Business Council.

The outlook for the airline is positive, despite pressures on the broader industry, and Air Vanuatu is a “strategically vital national carrier”, EY said in a statement.

The first meeting of creditors will be scheduled shortly, while the current management team will remain in place, it added.

Australian carrier Qantas Airways said it was supporting its codeshare passengers who were booked on Air Vanuatu flights, while the Vanuatu Tourism Office said discussions were under way with Virgin Australia and Fiji Airways about flying stranded passengers to their destinations.

Source: News Agencies