20 Nov 2020

Vanuatu flag carrier receives funding boost from Govt

9:25 am on 20 November 2020

Vanuatu's national airline will have some of the impacts of the Covid pandemic softened by a $US5m funding boost just approved by Parliament.

An Air Vanuatu plane taking off

An Air Vanuatu plane taking off Photo: RNZI

The Minister of Finance, Johnny Koanapo, presented a motion seeking the approval of the parliament for a guarantee for the airline, and it was unanimously approved.

Parliament was told the national carrier had its ATR72 aircraft still grounded in Australia and a Twin Otter in the same situation at Bauerfield.

The airline also had outstanding debt for landing fees in Sydney.

Koanapo said the guarantee would also help Air Vanuatu pay the outstanding cost of the lease for its 737-800 and a second ATR.

The boost comes despite a government announcement last month that a Commission of Inquiry would be appointed to investigate the process behind the purchase of four new jets by the airline.

At the time Koanapo said the previous board committed to buy four A220s without considering the implications for taxpayers, who owned the airline.

He said his government would change the plans to only buy two of the aircraft, and focus mostly on domestic travel.

Vanuatu's borders have been closed to international travel since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic in March.

Finance Minister, Johnny Koanapo

Finance Minister, Johnny Koanapo Photo: Buzz FM