Shareholders Appoint New Board of Directors

22 May 2020

Air Vanuatu welcomes four new Directors, appointed by the airline’s shareholders on Friday 8 May 2020.

The new Directors all bring a strong background, including a diverse range of disciplines and a wealth of experiences and knowledge.

The four new members are:

Sam FIRI, who will serve as the Chairman of the Board. He is a former Air Vanuatu engineer with ten years of experience as a Licensed Aircraft Maintenance Engineer (LAME) and five years as the Managing Director of a well-established aircraft maintenance service provider. He has worked with local and regional air operators in Vanuatu, Tonga and Kiribati. 

Andrew BAL, who is appointed as the Vice-Chairman. Mr. Bal is a well-known lawyer in Vanuatu, with over ten years of legal practice at a local law firm, Indigene Lawyers.

Jean Paul Virelala, who was the longest serving CEO of Air Vanuatu, holding the role from 1992 to 2005. He brings over 30 years of expertise in corporate management and financial governance. He holds a Bachelor of Economic and Banking from the University of Milan, Italy. Mr. Virelala is currently the Managing Director of RDF Quarry Limited, a Vanuatu based quarry transformation company.

Philip Charlie – is currently actively engaged as a politician who served as a Member of the Parliament of Vanuatu from 2009 to 2012. 


The new members, together with Derek Nice, Managing Director and CEO of Air Vanuatu, constitute the new Board of Directors.

“On behalf of the over 400 employees at Air Vanuatu, I welcome Sam, Andrew, Jean-Paul and Philip to our team,” said Mr. Nice.  “We are looking forward to their help and support as we manage our current challenges.”

The newly elected Chairman, Mr Sam Firi, thanks the outgoing board members Chairman Joel Lengsau, Vice Chairman Joseph Molkis, and the Directors Adela Issachar Aru, Ali Serhan and Jean Claude Emelee for all that they accomplished during their term.

The board led by former Chairman Lengsau was instrumental in returning Air Vanuatu to profitability, initiating international route expansion by relaunching service to Melbourne and increasing flights to Sydney, Brisbane, Auckland and Nadi; and implementing the airline’s contribution to the Shared Vision 2030 by committing to the acquisition of a new Airbus A220 fleet, which offers the operating economics for profitable operation throughout the Southwest Pacific region.

Air Vanuatu is a State-Owned Enterprise (SOE) of the Vanuatu Government, with 85% of shares entrusted to the Prime Minister’s Office and 5% of the shares individually entrusted to each of the Ministry of Tourism and Trade, the Ministry of Finance and Economic Management and the Ministry of Infrastructure and Public Utilities.

The newly appointed directors join the management and staff at at a time of unprecedented crisis as result of the covid-19 pandemic, causing the closure of international borders and the suspension of Air Vanuatu’s international passenger services, critical to the survival of the Vanuatu tourism and aviation sector.

“New Era, New Look,” says Chairman Firi.

“Our aim is now focused on the recovery of Air Vanuatu amidst the covid-19 crisis. It is crucial that the national carrier remains prepared and ready once the travel demand returns, which will boost our national aviation and tourism industry.

We will work hand in hand with all our partners and the Government to ensure our national carrier is protected and to continue serving the people of the Republic of Vanuatu.” Says Chairman Firi.” He said.



The new Directors from left to right: Jean Paul Virelala, Sam Firi, Andrew Bal and Philip Charlie.







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Paul Pio

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