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Thousands of passengers stranded as Air Vanuatu undergoes liquidation.



Air Vanuatu, the national carrier of the Pacific Islands nation of Vanuatu, has gone into liquidation following the cancellation of all flights, leaving thousands of travellers stranded. The airline blamed “extended maintenance requirements” on their aircraft for the sudden shutdown, leading to the appointment of EY, international consultants, to oversee the liquidation process. EY expressed hopes of getting Air Vanuatu’s small fleet of planes back in the skies as soon as possible by working with the airline’s management to conduct safety and maintenance checks.

The cancellation of more than 20 flights to and from Australian cities and New Zealand has had a significant impact on the tourism-dependent island nation. Air Vanuatu operates four planes that connect the country’s islands and international destinations in Australia, New Zealand, and other South Pacific islands. The airline is crucial for maintaining connectivity and supporting the local economy, which heavily relies on tourism. According to the Australia Pacific Islands Business Council, tourism accounts for around a third of the country’s economy, emphasizing the importance of Air Vanuatu’s operations for the nation’s economic well-being.

EY cited a challenging period for the global aviation industry, including labor shortages, rising operating costs, and disruptions from extreme weather as reasons for Air Vanuatu’s financial woes. Despite these challenges, the consultants remain optimistic about the future of the airline, describing it as a “strategically vital national carrier.” The first meeting of creditors will be scheduled shortly, and the current management team will continue to oversee operations during the liquidation process.

Support for stranded passengers has been coordinated with various airlines, including Australian carrier Qantas Airways, which is assisting its codeshare passengers booked on Air Vanuatu flights. Discussions are also underway with Virgin Australia and Fiji Airways to help transport stranded passengers to their destinations. The Vanuatu Tourism Office is actively working to mitigate the impact of the airline’s closure on tourism and passengers, ensuring that alternative travel arrangements are made promptly to minimize disruptions.

The liquidation of Air Vanuatu serves as a reminder of the challenges facing the aviation industry, particularly in the wake of the global COVID-19 pandemic. The closure of the national carrier highlights the vulnerabilities of small airlines operating in remote and tourism-dependent regions. The appointment of EY to oversee the liquidation process underscores the need for careful management and strategic planning in navigating the complex financial challenges that airlines face in the current economic environment.

As efforts continue to resume operations and support affected passengers, stakeholders are hopeful that Air Vanuatu will emerge from liquidation stronger and more resilient. Despite the uncertainties surrounding the timeline for the airline’s return to service, the commitment of consultants and the support of partner airlines indicate a collective effort to ensure the long-term sustainability of Air Vanuatu. The airline’s role as a vital link between the Pacific Islands and key international destinations underscores the importance of preserving its operations for the benefit of the local economy and tourism industry.

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