Airlines commit to Vanuatu despite runway worries

Solomon Airlines flies its Airbus A320 to Vanuatu
Solomon Airlines flies its Airbus A320 to Vanuatu

Solomon Airlines and Fiji Airways have confirmed that they will continue to operate flights to Vanuatu’s capital Port Vila, despite concerns about the runway at Bauerfield International Airport.

Last week Air New Zealand said it was suspending its Port Vila service as the runway has been “gradually deteriorating”. “We have taken the difficult decision… before the situation becomes unsafe,” it said.

But Solomon Airlines and Fiji Airways have both now said that they plan to continue flying to Port Vila. Solomon Airlines said the decision was taken after it conducted a review of the runway and concluded that conditions were “safe from a flight operational perspective”.

“Passengers and crew safety remain an absolute priority for Solomon Airlines and if there was ever any doubt, we would act accordingly. Hence our decision to immediately carry out our own review of the runway,” said the airline’s general manager of operations & commercial, Gus Kraus. “Our conclusion is that the runway is safe and we will continue to maintain operations with our… Airbus A320 into and out of the airport on its normal weekly schedule.”

He added however, that Solomon Airlines could cancel future flights “if… the situation changes”.

“We urge the authorities in Port Vila to also take the necessary steps of upgrading the runway conditions to ensure all airlines resume operations for the benefit of the Vanuatu people and industry and its future tourism development,” Kraus concluded.

Fiji Airways, which operates a lighter ATR aircraft to Port Vila, said it will “continue to monitor the condition of the runway”.

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