SUNBIZ

The Troubled Runway

Air New Zealand along with Virgin Australia, suspended services to Port Vila in January, citing safety concerns over the deteriorating runway at Bauerfield International Airport. Qantas also suspended a code-share
10 Apr 2016 11:53
The Troubled Runway
Bauerfield International Airport, Port Vila , airlines want permanent repairs. Photo: DON MCGARRY

Air New Zealand along with Virgin Australia, suspended services to Port Vila in January, citing safety concerns over the deteriorating runway at Bauerfield International Airport.

Qantas also suspended a code-share agreement with Air Vanuatu over the issue.

It is a major economic blow for a nation, which is still rebuilding after Cyclone Pam last year and relies heavily on tourism.

The government has commenced interim repairs but Air New Zealand said they were not good enough.

“The one-year lifespan of these repairs does not provide sufficient operational certainty to build a sustainable service on,” it said in a statement.

The airline said it had written to Vanuatu’s Civil Aviation Authority outlining the conditions for its return.

“Air New Zealand would only consider resuming services once a permanent solution for the runway at Bauerfield airfield has been fully funded, designed to a satisfactory standard and contracted to a competent contractor,” it said.The Australia-based foreign policy think-tank the Lowy Institute said in a report last month that tourism accounted for 40-65 percent of Vanuatu’s economic activity.

It said the runway had needed repairs for years but Vanuatu’s notorious political instability hampered efforts, with plans constantly changing as governments came and went.

Qantas said its code-share with Air Vanuatu remained suspended while Virgin Australia did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

* Fiji Airways operates ATR72-600 turboprops into Port Vila rather than the bigger, heavier and more debris vulnerable jets operated by airlines like Air New Zealand and Virgin Australia.

 



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