Hundreds of tourists have been stranded after Air Vanuatu cancelled a week’s worth of flights right as school holidays kicked off in New Zealand and Australia.
The airline’s only Boeing 737 aircraft – which connects Vanuatu with New Zealand and Australia – has been out of action for the second time this year.
Almost 20 international flights have been cancelled or rescheduled, and the airline has pulled in Nauru Airlines to keep its flight paths open.
Air Vanuatu issued a statement on their website on Monday informing passengers that an engineering issue caused the mass flight cancellations.
In a statement on Facebook, the airline said it couldn’t say exactly when the international flights would be up and running again but hoped to be operational by Friday.
“At this stage, we anticipate the possible resumption of international flights by the end of this week,” the statement said.
“Our teams have been working on re-routing guests via Nadi, Honiara and Brisbane. We ask guests on cancelled Air Vanuatu services to not present themselves at the airport for check-in.”
One Australian passenger stranded in Vanuatu, Eva Wiland, told Today that her flight scheduled for Sunday had been cancelled and she had no information about a replacement.
‘We’ve had no news. We were told not to go to the airport. Not to try to get … another flight,” she said.
“There’s a flight to Auckland tomorrow and then we have to get another ticket, back from Auckland to Sydney. Separately.”
This isn’t the first issue Air Vanuatu has faced this year.
In March, the airline’s only Boeing 737 aircraft broke down in Brisbane just before the Easter holidays. The Air Vanuatu jet suffered an undisclosed technical fault and waited weeks for parts before it was operational.
The disruption cost the airline at least VT168 million (US$1.4 million) from lost ticket sales alone. Air Vanuatu has been contacted for comment.