Van­u­atu Govern­ment re­fuses Air NZ char­ter flight

Fiji Sun - - Sunbiz - SOURCE: VAN­U­ATU DAILY POST Feed­back: sun­biz@fi­

The Min­is­ter of Pub­lic Util­i­ties and In­fras­truc­ture, Jotham Na­pat, has di­rected the Civil Avi­a­tion Au­thor­ity Van­u­atu (CAAV) to deny an Air New Zealand char­ter flight car­ry­ing RSE work­ers to fly in and out of Port Vila on April 28.

The govern­ment has ques­tioned Air New Zealand’s stance on re­fus­ing to com­mit to reg­u­lar com­mer­cial ser­vices car­ry­ing vis­i­tors cit­ing con­cerns with the run­way, yet has no ap­par­ent con­cerns to op­er­ate a char­ter flight car­ry­ing ni-Van­u­atu work­ers.

“CAAV has up­dated all air­lines with the com­pleted works at Bauer­field air­port and has been pleased with the re­sponse from all air­lines ex­cept for Air New Zealand,” Min­is­ter Na­pat said.

“Vir­gin Aus­tralia has flown per­son­nel over to in­spect the com­pleted works this week and we ex­pect them to re­turn to sched­uled ser­vices next month.

“It is re­gret­table that Air New Zealand has not done the same, yet con­tin­ues to refuse to op­er­ate com­mer­cial ser­vices.” Min­is­ter Na­pat said the govern­ment is seek­ing a com­mit­ment from Air New Zealand to re­sume com­mer­cial ser­vices and un­til such com­mit­ment is re­ceived, char­ter ser­vices from the air­line will not be ac­cepted. “The Sal­wai govern­ment made a com­mit­ment to im­me­di­ately un­der­take emer­gency re­pairs to Bauer­field air­port once elected. “Those works have been com­pleted and meet all safety re­quire­ments for air­lines to re­sume jet ser­vices in to Port Vila. “We have up­dated Air New Zealand on the com­pleted works yet they refuse to com­mit to sched­uled ser­vices. “To ap­ply for a char­ter us­ing an Air­bus A320 in­di­cates they are sat­is­fied with the state of the run­way – so the ques­tion must be asked, why are they will­ing to op­er­ate a prof­itable char­ter flight, yet not com­mit to re­sum­ing com­mer­cial ser­vices?” the Min­is­ter said. In a let­ter from Air New Zealand to CAAV, the air­line ac­knowl­edged the ram­i­fi­ca­tions of de­ci­sions to sus­pend ser­vices and stated “pro­vid­ing a safe and se­cure op­er­a­tion is our pri­or­ity and there can be no ex­cep­tions in this re­gard”.

“Yet de­spite their ‘no ex­cep­tions’ rule, Air New Zealand wishes to op­er­ate a com­mer­cially prof­itable char­ter flight. “The govern­ment has de­nied their ap­pli­ca­tion and in­stead en­cour­ages such char­ters to be op­er­ated by air­lines com­mit­ted to the des­ti­na­tion.” Min­is­ter Na­pat has also an­nounced the govern­ment has be­gun ne­go­ti­a­tions with the World Bank to up­grade Bauer­field Air­port to a full Code E run­way. A Code E run­way will al­low for larger air­crafts such as Boe­ing 787 and Air­bus A330 to land in Port Vila. “The de­ci­sion to seek as­sis­tance to up­grade the run­way to Code E stan­dard was made by the Coun­cil of Min­is­ters on Thurs­day,” Min­is­ter Na­pat said.

An air­port task force ap­pointed by the min­is­ter has al­ready com­menced dis­cus­sions with World Bank with the view to com­mence the up­grade with­out fur­ther de­lays. “The Sal­wai Govern­ment is com­mit­ted to sup­port­ing de­vel­op­ment and tourism in Van­u­atu – we need the in­fras­truc­ture in place to do so. “This up­grade will see a sig­nif­i­cant in­crease in vis­i­tor ar­rivals to the country. “Van­u­atu has much to of­fer tourists and our re­gional mar­kets are very im­por­tant to us, how­ever we need to have a long term strat­egy to en­cour­age new mar­kets to de­velop, such as Asia and be­yond,” Min­is­ter Na­pat said. Mean­while, though not re­lated to the govern­ment’s de­ci­sion above, Air Van­u­atu has an­nounced ad­di­tional in­ter­na­tional flights will com­mence on June 1 due to strong de­mand and in sup­port of the Van­u­atu Tourism Of­fice’s tourism re­cov­ery mar­ket­ing cam­paign.

“For the first time since Cy­clone Pam, we will be op­er­at­ing six flights a week to and from Syd­ney to Port Vila, three flights a week to and from Bris­bane and three flights a week to and from Auck­land,” chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer Joseph Laloyer said.

The in­creased flights are in ad­di­tion to Air Van­u­atu and code­share part­ner Fiji Air­ways’ eight flights a week be­tween Port Vila and Fiji and Air Van­u­atu’s four flights a week to Noumea. “Air Van­u­atu would like to ac­knowl­edge the work of the govern­ment of Van­u­atu to quickly com­plete emer­gency re­pairs at Bauer­field air­port and look for­ward to in­creas­ing our ser­vices and com­mit­ment to Van­u­atu.”

Photo: Air­lin­

Air New Zealand Air­bus A320-232 of the type that was de­nied land­ing at Bau­r­field Ai­port in Port Vila, Van­u­atu.

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