Media Release 15 January 2021: 2020 annual update as essential air services recommence

Airports Vanuatu Ltd (AVL) wishes all our stakeholders a happy and healthy new year for 2021 and provides an update on our December operations. 2021 will bring new opportunities managed within the context of 2020’s challenges

AVL looks forward to 2021 as a year of opportunities, which will be managed within the context of 2020’s challenges. Jason Rakau, CEO of AVL commented, “Covid-19 has impacted every corner of the globe. Vanuatu has been blessed to experience no local transmission however our borders have been closed and our aviation and tourism communities face significant direct ongoing challenges and our nation’s economy continues to feel the flow on effects. AVL is committed to working with our Government and industry colleagues under the leadership of the Access Transportation and Tourism Taskforce (AT3), endorsed by the Council of Ministers of the Government of Vanuatu and under the guidance of the Health Technical Advisory Group (HTAG), the Ministry of Health, and the World Health Organisation. Our AT3-led team of partners continue to work together, to establish protocols for air travel to continue for essential air travel and then progressively open up to broader groups, cautiously and as risk management assessments deem it safe to do so”.

January sees critical international air services recommence to the benefit of Australia and Vanuatu January 2021 has seen the recommencement of essential air services to enable Ni-Vanuatu seasonal workers to depart for Australia. Jason Rakau said, “I am so proud to see the seasonal worker charters depart, with highly skilled and valued Ni-Vanuatu seasonal workers departing. These flights illustrate how essential aviation is providing benefits to both nations. Ni-Vanuatu workers earn money, provide remittances to support their families, and return with skills and capital to invest in their own agricultural enterprises. Australian farmers have access to skilled agricultural labour, which is currently in such short supply with some crops under threat of not being brought to market”.

December 2020’s passenger results

  • Domestic passenger movements for December are down 40% on a year ago, which represents an upward swing, reflecting the welcome return of Air Vanuatu’s ATR aircraft to the fleet.

  • International air travel continues to operate in a limited capacity under the direction of the National Disaster Management Office (NDMO) to enable humanitarian relief, repatriation and cargo flights. International passenger movements for December are down 95% on a year ago.

Kevin Abel, General Manager Operations commented, “The positive trend in our domestic passenger movements is great news. December is traditionally our peak domestic month as people travel to be with their families to celebrate Christmas. December 2020 was no exception, despite the many challenges of the past year. Our highest domestic passenger throughput has been recorded since March, when borders closed and air travel was temporarily suspended. The bottom line is that real people with real families and stories are what drives aviation. People still wish to connect with their loved ones. AVL celebrates the New Year and the opportunity it brings for us to continue to support Ni-Vanuatu people, providing air transport connectivity and enhancing the quality of life we enjoy. We wish all our stakeholders a safe and happy year in 2021”. Ends

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