Air Vanuatu enters voluntary liquidation, leaving passengers stranded in Australia and Vanuatu

Air Vanuatu enters voluntary liquidation, leaving passengers stranded in Australia and Vanuatu
  • PublishedMay 10, 2024

Air Vanuatu has entered voluntary liquidation and authorities are unable to say when flights will resume, leaving Australian travellers and ni-Vanuatu people stranded across the two countries.

Ernst & Young confirmed it took control of the airline after the Vanuatu government appointed it as voluntary liquidator of the company.

Air Vanuatu said on Thursday afternoon all international flights until Sunday were cancelled, and flights after that day were “under review”.

A 737 plane at a gate at Sydney's international airport.
Air Vanuatu’s Boeing 737 at Sydney airport last year. (ABC News: Doug Dingwall)

Ernst & Young said it would conduct safety and maintenance checks before resuming normal operations.

“The liquidators intend to resume normal trading as soon as possible, while considering all opportunities to place the carrier on a stronger footing,” Ernst & Young said in a statement.

“Affected travellers will be informed of this disruption and re-booked on flights as soon as operations resume.

“The existing management team will remain in place and will work closely with the liquidators through this process.”

Vanuatu’s Finance Minister John Salong, whose role makes him a shareholder of Air Vanuatu, said no-one knows when the airline will resume its services.

“The first thing they have to do is, one, assure the employees that it’s business as usual, so they can take care of the customers that are currently stranded and customers that have been making bookings,” he said.

“The second thing is, of course, to look at ensuring that everything is safe, because we’re talking about aircraft being in the air and safety has always been paramount for Air Vanuatu.

“The third thing is to deal with the suppliers so that we can have all the necessary processes in place so the business can run as per usual.

“So it may take a couple of weeks.”

A small plane is loaded up on an outer island in Vanuatu.
An Air Vanuatu domestic plane is loaded up on an outer island in Vanuatu.(ABC News: Doug Dingwall)

Morgan Kelly, an Ernst & Young partner in turnaround and restructuring services, said the liquidators were working as quickly as possible so that passengers could get home.

“We have people who are stranded in all kinds of locations at the moment and also people who are stranded in Vanuatu trying to return home to their destinations,” he said.

“At the moment we’re working with all of our partner airlines, our codeshare airlines.

“And we’re also working with other operators and the Vanuatu government agencies to try and come up with a solution as quickly as we can.”

Air Vanuatu, which is owned by the Vanuatu government, has been grappling with issues affecting its services including flight delays and cancellations, and its Boeing 737 has been in maintenance for extended periods.

A spokesperson from Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade said they were “aware of reports that Air Vanuatu and its codeshare partners have cancelled or re-scheduled all flights over the coming days”.

“Australians affected by the travel delays should contact their travel agent or travel insurance company,” the spokesperson added.


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