PASSENGERS URGE AIR VANUATU DISCOUNTS

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By Ricky Binihi

PORT VILA, Vanuatu (Vanuatu Daily Post, Nov. 1) - Many ni-Vanuatu businessmen and ordinary people alike who travel a lot onboard the [government-owned] Air Vanuatu should be allocated traveling points or given some form of discounts.

Luganville based businessman Peter Garae says there are many people like him around Vanuatu that use Air Vanuatu domestic almost eight times every month but when they ask for specials their request falls on deaf ears.

The businessman from Ambae who specializes in kava says he knows many other people like him who are frequent Air Vanuatu domestic passengers but it seems that there are no recognition for their customers whatsoever. A reason why Air Vanuatu domestic does not provide frequent flyer programs is that Air Vanuatu is the only airline that operates the local routes.

Mr. Garae said he and his family not only travel frequently on the national airline locally but when the weather is bad and cargo boats could not transport bags of kava to Port Vila they have to airfreight the kava.

"Now that cyclone Xavier is threatening parts of Vanuatu and sea transports comes to a stop we only use Air Vanuatu. Only yesterday (Wednesday) I sent two bags of kava to Port Vila and it cost me Vt10 000 [US$92.76]," Garae said.

The Luganville popular kava bar owner said he does not have any difficulty with the Air Vanuatu cargo freight prices but he said it would be good for Air Vanuatu to acknowledge its valued customers with either points, rewards, bonuses and cheap flights.

Air Vanuatu domestic will be unable to do these promotions locally since it is the only airline operating the domestic route. But, very soon Air Vanuatu international must be forced to introduce some marketing strategies now that Air New Zealand and Solomon Airlines will be flying into Vanuatu.

The owners of Air Vanuatu, the people of Vanuatu, have been complaining about the high cost of air travel locally and for Air Vanuatu to explain the reasons behind the high cost but it would seem that nothing has been done to address their grievances as yet.

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