Stranded Air Vanuatu passengers have few options except to await decisions

The shutdown of Vanuatu’s airline has left holidaymakers stranded.

Air Vanuatu has cancelled all of its international flights until Sunday, and later flights are under review as it considers voluntary administration.

Ernst & Young representatives arrived in Port Vila on 9 May, to begin an assessment of Air Vanuatu’s financials and are being assisted by the Vanuatu government and the Air Vanuatu team.

Executive director of New Zealand’s Board of Airline Representatives Cath O’Brien said it was still an emerging situation.

She recommended passengers sit tight, await news from the airline or the administrators, and don’t travel to the airport.

At present flights operated to and from Auckland to Port Vila as well as Brisbane, which were operated by Virgin Australia on behalf of Air Vanuatu.

She said it was too soon to predict if other airlines might step in.

It was sad Air Vanuatu was faced with such challenges, O’Brien said.

“Operating an airline is a really complex and high cost business.”

The costs of leasing and the maintenance of aircraft and paying for fuel and sustaining a stead flow of income were difficult.

Independent airline commentator Irene King said Air New Zealand or an Australian carrier were likely to step in to bring stranded passengers home from Vanuatu.

King said other airlines have stepped in to help before.

Concern over petrol on flight

In regards to a Newshub report on Thursday that a chainsaw and a container of petrol were loaded onto a flight from Christchurch to Sydney and it was not picked up by security screening she said she wanted to know how it could have happened.

“Fuel is obviously a dangerous good and the reason it’s a dangerous good is because it’s combustible so we cannot have fuel sources that could ignite.”

The breakdown had occurred during the screening process in Christchurch. It was not picked up until the flight reached Australia and officials there picked it up before it took off for another destination.

“Airlines absolutely rely on Avsec (Aviation Security) to be doing its job to screen baggage to make sure it’s safe for travel and of course airlines always ask passengers don’t take dangerous goods or pack them appropriately.”

The Newshub report said an inquiry had been held by Avsec and the staff member involved was undergoing more training.

Civil Aviation is also looking into the incident.

According to the news on Radio New Zealand

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