Air Vanuatu today announced it set a new record for passenger traffic in 2019, carrying more than 400,000 passengers and over VT 7.3 billion in revenue for the first time in the airline’s history.
International traffic climbed 18.3% to reach 219,000 passengers, driven by increased capacity to Fiji, additional weekly flights to Auckland and Brisbane, and the launch of non-stop service to Melbourne.
“We are especially thrilled by the success of our new Melbourne flights,” stated Derek Nice, CEO of Air Vanuatu. “Visitors to Vanuatu from the state of Victoria have more than doubled since the launch of our new service.”
Domestic traffic grew 5.7% to 187,000 passengers. The biggest increase was on the Port Vila/Tanna route, where traffic was up 13.4% over the previous year.
Air Vanuatu has a big impact on Vanuatu’s social and economic development. The airline today operates to 28 airports on 20 islands, providing critical air links to Port Vila, Santo and Tanna, and it provides 74% of international flights, bringing the vast majority of visitors to the country. Air Vanuatu directly contributes over 7% of Vanuatu’s GDP and employs more than 400 Ni-Vanuatu.
Other highlights of the year include:
- Becoming the launch customer in the South Pacific for the new Airbus A220 aircraft.
- Launching the new Air Vanuatu mobile app, with more information and faster bookings.
- Opening airport lounges in Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney, with access available for business class passengers and for other passengers upon purchase.
- Opening a new flight catering centre, designed exclusively to meet the needs of Air Vanuatu and other airlines operating from Port Vila.
- Hiring 85 new employees and promoting and appointing 13 Ni-Vanuatu to management positions.
- Graduating another class of Flight Attendants, who have gone on to crew the Boeing 737 and ATR 72.
- Launching the airline’s Pilot Development Program, established in partnership with the Government of Vanuatu Ministry of Education and Training.
- Appointing the airline’s first female Ni-Vanuatu Boeing 737 pilot.
- Investing in staff skills training held in Vanuatu, Australia, Canada, China, Fiji, Latvia, New Zealand, Singapore, Thailand, the US, Switzerland and Vietnam.
- Demonstrating Air Vanuatu’s commitment to gender equality by signing up to the International Air Transport Association “25by2025” program, with the goal of increasing female participation in the management team from 36% today to 45% within five years.
- Sponsoring 4 Vanuatu sports teams and many community groups, including non-government organizations and government agencies supporting outreach work throughout the six provinces.
- Sponsoring Vanuatu largest Tourism Event, TOKTOK Vanuatu, bringing over 100 tourism operators from Vanuatu and abroad. Air Vanuatu has been a major a sponsor since its commencement 17 years ago.
Mr. Joel Lengsau, Chairman of the Board of Directors, congratulated all the employees on behalf of the shareholders and members of the Board. “I am proud of your hard work and dedication, and the contribution you’ve all made to achieve the success we’ve seen in 2019.”
Despite these positive results, Mr. Nice acknowledges that there is still work to do. “We disappointed many passengers with a number of flight cancellations and delays, especially during the peak Christmas season, when people were counting on us to bring them home to their friends and family, or to start long anticipated holidays” he said. “We are all committed to increasing Air Vanuatu’s on-time performance and schedule reliability.”
The airline has high expectations for 2020, with the arrival of the first new Airbus A220, new domestic schedules and other initiatives soon to be announced. Already Air Vanuatu Flight Attendants are on training in Switzerland; Maintenance Engineers in Canada and Germany; and Pilots in Canada, and airports here in Vanuatu and Australia and New Zealand are preparing for the launch of new A220 service less than five months from now.