Media Release: 10 September 2020: Air access is critical to all Ni-Vanuatu

Airports Vanuatu Ltd (AVL) wishes to update stakeholders on the financial year ending 30 September 2020 and our role in supporting essential air access to Vanuatu. FY20 was a year of highs and lows

AVL saw record passenger statistics achieved across our three airports in February, of 776,000 passenger movements in the previous 12 months, up 8% year on year. Then overnight the State of Emergency resulted in the closure of Vanuatu’s borders and suspension of flying. As a result, the aviation industry has suffered a significant loss this year and AVL has felt the full force of that loss. For the year ending September 2020, AVL processed 465,000 passenger movements, down 37% on the previous year.

  • In the September quarter, total passenger traffic is 74% down on the same period last year, meaning only one person is travelling now, for every four people previously.

  • Domestic flying recommenced in April, but capacity has been constrained by Air Vanuatu’s available fleet. Domestic passenger movements for the September quarter are down 53% on a year ago.

  • International air travel continues to operate in a limited capacity under the direction of the National Disaster Management Office to enable humanitarian relief, repatriation and cargo flights. 3,000 international passengers travelled during the September quarter, 97% down on a year ago.

Flow on impacts of reduced air travel on AVL Inevitably with the impact of reduced air travel, AVL has had to make major changes to our business, reflecting the reduced air services and associated revenues. All AVL employees are currently on reduced hours, our airports have reduced hours of operation and some areas of our terminals are closed off. A number of capital projects for airport operations have been deferred and our Management Team and Board anticipates the new financial year will continue to bring challenges to our business, until such time as quarantine-free travel and commercial aviation can resume. Flow on impacts of reduced air travel on the Vanuatu economy The absence of regular international air services has been felt by virtually every resident of Vanuatu, either directly in not being able to travel freely, or indirectly in that the absence of goods, services and international visitors is seriously impacting our economy and society. Everyone knows someone whose life has been turned upside down. They’re out of work or a loved one is trapped overseas. International visitors spend money in resorts, with public transport drivers, with tour operators, in restaurants, shops, markets and through the employment they generate, their direct spend flows through to all shops and services. International visitors are more than tourists. They’re expert technicians who are required to maintain equipment. They’re doctors providing specialist services. They’re friends and relatives of Vanuatu residents. AVL remains optimistic that international travel will return but the question is when and how. We are committed to working with our partners to make that happen in a safe way, but until that time comes, everyday people will continue to feel the absence of international aviation in our lives. AVL welcomes steps to open the Tasman Bubble AVL has taken a prominent role behind the scenes in recovery planning for the maritime and aviation sectors. Our key consideration in all decision making is public health and acting on the advice of the Ministry of Health.

Kevin Abel, General Manager Operations for AVL, commented, “Developing the protocols for COVID-safe air travel is complex and AVL is working with multiple agencies in Vanuatu and overseas to ensure we adopt global best practice measures to ensure the health and well-being of our community and all airport users including AVL’s staff, other airport users and passengers. We welcome the first steps towards the Tasman Bubble last week, establishing travel for New Zealand residents to some states in Australia with quarantine-free entry. This is the first step for our region in opening up travel beyond repatriation of residents. These first quarantine-free travellers are pioneers, representing a significant step on the path to aviation resuming its critical role in connecting people, goods and services in our region”.


About Airports Vanuatu Ltd AVL is the proud owner and operator of three airports, in Port Vila, and on the islands of Santo and Tanna. AVL’s airports and our airline partners work together to facilitate safe, secure and reliable air access for international visitors to travel to and from our island paradise and for ni-Vanuatu to work and play, flying domestically and to the rest of the world.

Media contact For further information, please contact Jason Rakau, Chief Executive Officer of AVL. Tel: 25111 or International Direct Dial +678 25111 Email: Web: Address: PO Box 131, Port Vila, Vanuatu, SW Pacific