Media Release: AVL Update 1 May 2020

Airports Vanuatu Ltd (AVL) wishes to update all stakeholders on airport operations, following the suspension of the majority of flying six weeks ago and Tropical Cyclone Harold, and advise that:

  • Under the direction of the National Disaster Management Office (NDMO), limited domestic and international services are being facilitated;

  • Santo Airport sustained limited structural damage as a result of Tropical Cyclone Harold;

  • Tanna Airport has sustained no impacts from the increased activity of Mt Yasur; and

  • AVL continues to operate and maintain its airport assets and actively engage with our partners, agencies and the Government of Vanuatu, in planning for the resumption of services, in due course.

Jason Rakau, CEO of AVL said, “Our nation has faced extraordinary challenges in the past two months. Throughout the challenges, I am proud of how AVL and our Team have worked together, supported our airport communities and co-operated with our partners and stakeholders. We are committed to maintaining compliant, safe and secure operations now, as we work under the directive of the Government, NDMO and the Civil Aviation Authority Vanuatu (CAAV) during the active State of Emergency. We look forward to continuing to work cooperatively with our partners, as we move together collectively to establish the protocols for a gradual increase in travel in the future”

The team handling cargo flights throughout the crisis is a strong collaboration between AVL and partner agencies, Vanuatu Terminal Services and Ezzy Kill.

Limited air services are operating under the direction of the NDMO Following TC Harold, the NDMO authorised limited international flights for delivery of cargo, aid and repatriation purposes and a reduced domestic air service by Air Vanuatu. AVL’s three airports at Port Vila and on Santo and Tanna will continue our operational focus and commitment to fulfilling our responsibilities in facilitating:

  • domestic passenger and cargo operations;

  • international humanitarian aid;

  • international repatriation; and

  • critical international cargo supplies.

AVL’s Team is actively working with multiple stakeholders, agencies, the Government and Ministries on the planning phase required to increase flights, including the protocols required, with public health as the foremost consideration. Airport Update AVL’s three airports’ results for the first quarter of 2020 act as a barometer for the Covid-19 crisis. All three airports broke records in February, reflecting the confidence of the nation and the tourism industry prior to the full impact of Covid-19. In the space of the next three weeks of March, air services completely ceased. Port Vila Airport 2020 Quarter 1 Performance Port Vila Airport traffic reported an all-time record throughput in February 2020, with 568,800 passengers being processed in the previous 12 months, up 10% on the previous year.

Santo Airport 2020 Quarter 1 Performance Santo Airport traffic reported an all-time record throughput in February 2020, with 137,400 passengers being processed in the previous 12 months, up 2% on the previous year.

The impact of TC Harold on 11 April 2020 resulted in limited structural damage to Santo Airport, which the Santo Airport Team is actively addressing with the support of AVL’s Management Team.

Tanna Airport 2020 Quarter 1 Performance Tanna Airport traffic reported an all-time record throughput in February 2020, with 69,500 passengers being processed in the previous 12 months, up 6% on the previous year.

The constant ash fall produced by Mt. Yasur during April 2020 has not resulted in any significant impact on Tanna Airport to date. The Tanna Airport Team continue to monitor the situation, supported by AVL’s Management Team.

Kevin Abel, General Manager of Operations for AVL said, “Our teams at Santo Airport and Tanna Airport have the full support of AVL’s Management and resources, and even while they and their families face personal challenges resulting from the impacts of natural disasters, they are facing their professional challenges admirably. As an organisation, we could not be more proud of our Teams, nor be more committed to supporting them, going forwards. AVL has assessed the structural and operational impacts of TC Harold and formulated a plan for short- and long-term recovery, always working with our partners to ensure essential air services continue to operate in a safe, secure and compliant manner”. 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