25 May 2016

Air NZ urged to follow Virgin Australia with Vanuatu flights

1:55 pm on 25 May 2016
Virgin Australia, Gold Coast.

Photo: RNZ / Alexander Robertson

The Chairman of Airports Vanuatu is welcoming the resumption of Virgin Australia flights but says they also need Air New Zealand to return.

The airlines cancelled flights into Vanuatu in January because of concerns over the safety of the runway at Bauerfield Airport.

But Virgin Australia has just resumed flights following repairs to the runway.

Airports Vanuatu Chairman and political advisor to the Ministry of Infrastructure and Public Utilities, Bakoa Kaltongga, said the loss of flights had hurt tourism in Vanuatu

"Since the flights from Air New Zealand stopped and Virgin stopped we have experienced a number of closures of small tourism businesses owned by expats and ni Vanuatu tourist operators have also suffered. But things are slowly turning around."

Bakoa Kaltongga said Air New Zealand had indicated it will meet with Vanuatu officials in June and he hoped the government's decision to further upgrade the airport would ease the airline's concerns.

Vanuatu's main international airport Bauerfield at Port Vila

Vanuatu's main international airport Bauerfield at Port Vila Photo: RNZI/Beverley Tse

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