Tuesday, September 26, 2023

Australians among hundreds stranded by Air Vanuatu flight cancellations

Hundreds of travellers have been stranded in Vanuatu after the country's sole international aircraft was grounded due to mechanical issues. 
Key points:

More than 20 Air Vanuatu flights have been cancelled or rescheduled since Friday
Incoming Air Vanuatu chairman Moana Carcasses Kalosil says about 800 people are affected 

Tourism operator Philip Ayong says stranded travellers are feeling very anxious and angry
Air Vanuatu says its Boeing 737 is grounded in Brisbane "awaiting a mechanical part", meaning more than 20 Air Vanuatu flights to Australia, New Zealand and Fiji have been cancelled or rescheduled since Friday. 

The airline says it is "deeply sorry" for the "significant disruptions" and is promising to resume its international schedule by the end of this week. 

Ulladulla resident Janice O'Neil said she was en route to the airport on Friday when she received an email saying her flight from Sydney to Vanuatu was cancelled.

Ms O'Neil planned to meet her husband, who was already in the country, for five days of "sunrise beach walks and sunset beverages" on Erakor Island. 

"Unfortunately, he is there by himself," she said.

"It is so disappointing. Life is busy … this was going to be a chance for us to reconnect."

Yumi Tours and Transfers operator Philip Ayong said in the long term, travel disruptions would begin to affect his business.

Mr Ayong said Air Vanuatu needed to partner with larger airlines to offer customers more consistent flights.

He noted political instability and poor management was "not really helping". 

"With the way it is trending, it's not really building a good reputation," he said.

"People are very anxious and very angry at the same time, having already paid tickets and [having flights cancelled] without a proper explanations about refunds."

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