Airports Vanuatu Ltd launches formal Media Policy

Compiled by Anita Roberts.

AVL has apologized to the Vanuatu Daily Post after one of its security officers forced a DP journalist to delete photos of a recent repatriation flight. Photo: Kizzy Kalsakau

Airports Vanuatu Ltd (AVL) has launched a formal Media Policy to clarify the circumstances under which filming and photography can take place at AVL’s airports.

AVL also apologized to the Vanuatu Daily Post after an AVL security officer forced one of its photojournalist and Vanuatu Nightly News Anchor, Kizzy Kalsakau, to delete all photos of a repatriation flight captured from outside the airport perimeter.

Following the recent incident at the airport, the Media Association of Vanuatu (MAV) also made a call on the Vanuatu Government to support media to carry out its task as the fourth pillar of democracy instead of barricading and threatening reporters.

“Confiscating and deleting photos of the repatriation flight captured by the journalist was without a clear reasoning and clear contradiction to the declaration by the UN Secretary General, Dr. Antonio Guterres on the importance of the media in this battle against COVID-19,” MAV stated.

In a phone call to personally apologize to the photographer yesterday, AVL Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Jason Rakau, said what the security officer did was wrong since there is no restriction of taking photos in that area.

AVL issued an apology to the photographer and the Daily Post in a statement yesterday:

“During the recent repatriation flights, an AVL Aviation Security official mistakenly requested a Daily Post photographer to delete photos taken from outside the airport perimeter.

“AVL instigated a review of the incident and identified an error has been made. AVL apologises to the photographer and the Daily Post.”

General Manager (GM) Operations of AVL, Kevin Abel, stated: “Regrettably our staff member got it wrong on the day.

“We have apologized and in reviewing the incident identified that there was room for improvement from our side.

“We commit to implementing a formal Media Policy, to clarify the situation for our staff, the media and the public, supported by additional training of staff.

“We recognize that AVL’s airports are often the location of significant media interest and we are committed to working with the media in future to satisfy the public appetite for news.

“We have implemented a procedure whereby we can make images available to the public for publication.”

AVL has clarified that there is no restriction on photography in all locations within the terminals and outside the front of the terminals, such as the footpath and car park including the land outside the airport perimeter fence.

However, still or video images are not permitted in areas where security screening, customs or immigration operate, or on the apron of the airfield.

These policies are global policies mandated by the International Civil Aviation Authority (ICAO) and implemented in Vanuatu under the direction of the Civil Aviation Authority of Vanuatu (CAAV), and the Civil Aviation Act. 

The primary function of AVL’s airports is to provide facilities for the safe, secure and efficient movement of passengers, staff, freight and aircraft. Airports are secure, restricted environments bound by multiple jurisdictions of agencies operating in the airport, including Customs, Immigration, Quarantine and Police. Specific international security policies and standards apply to airports worldwide, which mean photography is restricted, and in some cases expressly forbidden, in certain areas.

 AVL assured it is committed to working closely with those wishing to film on airport, either commercial organisations and private persons who wish to use the airport for filming and photography activities.

 AVL also noted the importance of respecting the privacy of individuals, regardless of location.  Anyone taking still or video images of airport users is requested to be respectful of the privacy of private individuals, those working on airport, and airport operators.

 AVL’s Media Policy stipulates individuals should not be identifiable unless the photographer has express permission. Responsibility for permission to film or take photographs at AVL’s airports rests with AVL’s General Manager Operations.

Vanuatu Daily Post Management acknowledges the apology and the positive step forward by the AVL CEO and his team to develop a formal Media policy. We will continue to work together to get the right information to the people in these unprecedented times.