Air New Zealand Maintains Ban On Flights To Vanuatu

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Pacific Islands Development Program, East-West Center With Support From Center for Pacific Islands Studies, University of Hawai‘i

Despite repairs, carrier only proposing charter flights to Port Vila

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, April 26, 2016) – Air New Zealand is maintaining its suspension on commercial flights to Vanuatu, despite emergency remedial works being completed at Vanuatu's main airport.

In January, Air New Zealand cancelled flights into Bauerfield Airport in Port Vila because of unsafe conditions.

Virgin Australia followed suit and Qantas suspended its codeshare arrangement with Air Vanuatu.

The New Zealand firms Fulton Hogan and Tonkin +Taylor have completed repairs to the runway, and aviation representatives in the region say the airstrip is now safe.

New Zealand's Civil Aviation Authority confirmed that Air New Zealand consulted it and it says it is pleased that appropriate action was taken.

Qantas has not been able to confirm in time for this report whether it will recommence its codeshare deals with Air Vanuatu, which were suspended in January.

Virgin Australia says it is taking bookings for flights from May the 23rd.

Meanwhile, the Vanuatu govermment says a plan by Air New Zealand to charter flights is proof enough that the carrier must be happy with the conditions.

Earlier this week, Vanuatu's Public Utilities Minister, Jotham Napat said he would deny Air New Zealand entry for a charter flight planned for Thursday, as it was inconsistent with its decision not to run commercial flights.

Air New Zealand has not responded to requests for comment, but an earlier statement says it won't recommence commercial flights until the airport's long-term redevelopment deal, funded by the World Bank, is fully designed and contracted.

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