Strong growth and high demand post Cyclone Pam

14 July 2015: Air Vanuatu is experiencing steady growth with a positive return to pre-cyclone bookings and inquiries.

Joseph Laloyer, CEO of the national carrier said the airline's decision to consolidate flights had not seen a significant reduction in passenger loads.

"On the contrary, we are pleased to report good loads over the Australian and New Zealand school holiday period with some increase in demand for flights in the second quarter of 2016."

Mr. Laloyer said the airline had been working with its industry partners in Vanuatu and wholesalers in key markets to let potential visitors know Vanuatu is back open for business.

"After the cyclone we were forced to review our schedule and consolidate flights, a decision which has reduced our overheads but not our overall passenger numbers," he said.

"We added extra flights during the school holiday period due to demand, which is good news for the whole country."

Air Vanuatu has just completed the first stage of the IATA Operational Safety Audit (IOSA) which was originally scheduled in the weeks after the cyclone however this was postponed to June.

Mr. Laloyer said a team of five international auditors from Aviation Quality Services (part of Lufthansa Flight Training) spent a week at the airline's head office and airport facilities auditing specific disciplines as per IATA worldwide standards.

International flight operations, flight dispatch, cabin, engineering and maintenance, security, quality assurance and airline organisation and structure were all checked for compliance.

It is imperative the airline retains its IOSA certification as the loss of the rating results in an immediate cancellation of IATA membership which would have a detrimental effect on the airline.

"The IOSA process is ongoing - we have to close any findings by August in order for the certificate to be issued," Mr. Laloyer said.

"Thus continuity of our high standards and safety first policy is required in the coming months, as always.

"We are putting in all our efforts to ensure the strict IOSA timeline for reporting and closing findings is adhered to, however we are confident of meeting all targets."

Mr. Laloyer said the international auditors were pleased with Air Vanuatu's compliance to date and shared his confidence in the airline retaining the certificate.

The airline's short-term forward bookings were also solid, with sensible growth and interest in the destination returning.

"We are seeing steady growth each week meaning tourists are returning to Vanuatu. Even with the two big hotels still closed, our passenger numbers are good."

Domestic flights too have received a boost Mr. Laloyer said, with high demand for travel to Santo and the outer islands.

"We are pleased to see tourists visiting our outer islands - especially those untouched by the cyclone. Our team worked very hard in the first few weeks after the cyclone to get the message out the northern islands in particularly were unaffected by Pam.

"Air Vanuatu has recently released specials from Australia and New Zealand to further encourage tourists to return to Vanuatu and campaigns planned for the next six months to maintain our presence in the market," he said.

"It is important to note that our smaller hotel partners in Port Vila are open and whilst we wait with anticipation for Iririki and Holiday Inn to re-open, there are plenty of other options for visitors.

"We are also strongly recommending the implementation of the tourism recovery plan initiated by the Tourism Office and stakeholders as soon as possible in order to boost the destination after the cyclone," Mr. Laloyer said.

"This will definitively drive interest to Vanuatu and will certainly get more tourists visiting the country and benefiting every business after the cyclone."

Media inquiries: Air Vanuatu - Tiffany Carroll tel +678 7747153 or tcarroll@airvanuatu.vu