Repatriation flights delay not a result of financial causes: Air Vanuatu

Repatriation flights delay not a result of financial causes, says Air Vanuatu

The repatriation flight schedule delay as announced by Air Vanuatu is not a result of financial causes as speculated on social media, said Air Vanuatu’s Marketing and Communications Manager, Paul Pio.

He clarified that the delay was requested to review the airline’s in-flight COVID-19 protocols and measures and flights should start next week.

The first flight under the government’s second repatriation phase was supposed to arrive from Auckland in Australia today (Wednesday).

Air Vanuatu’s Acting Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Joseph Laloyer, said in a statement: “The decision to delay these services is beyond our control and it is absolutely not caused by any financial reasons.

“All our flights have been approved by the regional airports and authorities concerned to operate as per the published schedule.

Air Vanuatu remains fully committed to working with the government to undertake the repatriation flights.”

Director of the Civil Aviation Authority (CAV), Jacky Langati Trief, said the flights are put on hold until the National Disaster Management Office (NDMO) is satisfy with the airline’s in-flight COVID-19 protocols and measures which have been submitted and are currently under review.

Apart from the scheduled cargo flights, all repatriation flights, including private charters, will be approved on an adhoc basis, he said.

The National Disaster Advisory Committee is expected to issue an advice by Monday next week regarding the repatriation flights.

Acting CEO Laloyer assured the new flight schedule will be issued with sufficient advance notice and will include a choice of departure dates, to provide passengers with the flexibility to book and make necessary travel arrangements.

Meanwhile, the Public Relations Officer (PRO), Fred Vurobaravu, as the government spokesperson has responded to allegations on social media that the cancellation of the repatriation flights from Australia were related to the airline’s outstanding landing fees.

“I want to assure everyone that Air Vanuatu will be repatriating citizens from any airports in Australia,” he said.

Talks on repatriation has already been held between the two governments and that is why Air Vanuatu has come out with its repatriation schedule.

“The government will do its best to carry out the repatriation operation under strict COVID-19 protocols and health measures.”

PRO Vurobaravu stressed that members of the public should not be creating or sharing information on social media that worry citizens abroad waiting for the second repatriation phase.