Air Vanuatu serves Auckland, Brisbane, Melbourne, and Sydney…with one 737-800. So when that aircraft broke down, the ripple effect was tusanmi-like.
Air Vanuatu Broken 737-800 Leads To Cascading Cancellations Across Australia + New Zealand
Air Vanuatu is the flag carrier of Vanuatu with a hub at Bauerfield International Airport in Port Vila. The airline was born in 1981 with the help of Ansett Airlines after Vanuatu gained independence from the United Kingdom. The carrier serves Australia and New Zealand with its single mid-range aircraft, a Boeing 737-800 it took delivery of in 2008.
On March 31, 2023, the 737-800 was set to operate from Brisbane (BNE) to Port Vila (VLI) as NF21…when the aircraft broke down.
Not only did that strand a plane full of passengers in Brisbane, but the ripple effect stranded passengers across the network, all who were reliant upon that single 737 aircraft operating.
When passengers in other cities attempted to call Air Vanuatu when they received word their flight was canceled, they found that the call center is not open on weekends. Passengers in Brisbane were (nad continue to be) provided with food and sleeping accommodations.
The carrier has cancelled all of its international mid-haul service until at least April 8, 2023. A statement released earlier today offers an apology for the unforeseen meltdown:
Air Vanuatu has advised this morning that it is with deep regret that they now are cancelling all flights on the New Zealand and Australia routes up to and including Friday 7th of April. This announcement follows recent news regarding the parts Air Vanuatu is waiting on for their Boeing 737 aircraft. These parts are being sourced with urgent support from Boeing offices in the United States and Australia however are causing more delays to operations.
While the carrier did eventually try to re-route passengers on other airlines (on Aircalin, Fiji Airways, or Virgin Australia), it did not have much luck:
“Air Vanuatu has reached out to partner airlines for support in flying the affected passengers this weekend while their aircraft is awaiting parts. However, unfortunately there are no additional services available at this time.”
Passengers traveling to Vanuatu on holiday were also left holding the bag. One family told The New Zealand Herald:
“I haven’t been able to get in touch with the customer service at all. And the hotels I’ve booked in Vanuatu refuse to give us a refund.”
When your entire international flight network rests upon one aircraft, there is no room for mechanical error. Guests attempting to travel on Air Vanuatu this week are learning this first-hand.
image: Air Vanuatu