Air Vanuatu’s flight cancellations leave hundreds of travellers stranded

Air Vanuatu, the national airline of the Pacific island nation, has cancelled dozens of flights to and from New Zealand and Australia due to engineering problems with its only Boeing 737 aircraft. The cancellations have affected hundreds of travellers, especially those who planned to visit Vanuatu for the school holidays.

The airline said on its website that it was facing “unexpected challenges” in completing the necessary work on the aircraft, and that it could not provide an exact timeframe for resuming its regular schedules. It said it anticipated “the possible resumption of international flights by the end of this week”.

Alternative options offered to affected customers

Air Vanuatu said it had engaged Nauru Airlines to operate a number of limited services between Brisbane, Sydney, Auckland and Nadi to and from Port Vila. It also said it was working on re-routing guests via Nadi, Honiara and Brisbane.

Air Vanuatu’s flight cancellations leave hundreds of travellers stranded
Air Vanuatu’s flight cancellations leave hundreds of travellers stranded

The airline advised customers not to go to the airport for scheduled travel, but to check its website for updates. It also offered refunds to those who no longer wished to travel.

Frustration and anger among stranded travellers

Some of the travellers who were stranded in Vanuatu or unable to depart from their home countries expressed their frustration and anger on social media. One Australian woman posted on Facebook that she was supposed to return home on Monday, but her flight was pushed back to Tuesday, and then to Friday. She said she was looking forward to going home, but also acknowledged that Vanuatu was a “nice place to be stuck”.

Another traveller tweeted that he had booked his trip to Vanuatu six months ago, and that he was “gutted” by the cancellation. He said he had spent hours on the phone trying to get a refund or a rebooking, but had no luck.

Previous disruptions in August

This is not the first time that Air Vanuatu has faced flight disruptions due to technical issues with its Boeing 737. In August, the airline cancelled or rescheduled several flights for the same reason. It said at the time that it was working with Boeing and other partners to resolve the problem as soon as possible.

Air Vanuatu is one of the main carriers that connect Vanuatu with other countries in the region. It operates flights to New Zealand, Australia, Fiji, Solomon Islands, New Caledonia and Papua New Guinea. It also has domestic flights within Vanuatu.

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