Fiji Airways interested in reviving Port Vila, Tanna and Santo flights

PHOTO: Fiji Airways

Vanuatu deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Matai Seremaiah, has announced that Fiji Airways is interested in connecting Port Vila to Tanna and Port Vila to Santo flights via an ATR, ensuring continued connectivity within the nation. 

He revealed this during a press conference held by the Ministerial Taskforce, appointed by Prime Minister Charlot Salwai last Thursday, in which Seremaiah is the chairman. 

The Taskforce aim to find sustainable solutions for Air Vanuatu’s short- and long-term services, and will report back to the Council of Ministers (COM). 

“Fiji Airways is interested in connecting Vila-Tanna and Vila-Santo with the ATR. This means that for those in other islands with smaller aircraft servicing them, we still have no solutions to reconnect their airports,” said DPM Seremaiah. 

“Our primary goal is to restore domestic and international air connectivity, and the involvement of Fiji Airways is a significant step in that direction. 

“Most negotiations are ongoing, and some details cannot be disclosed to the public until the agreements are finalised. The priority of the team I am leading is to restore air connectivity within the country and abroad. 

“It is not an easy task since the industry is heavily regulated and there are no shortcuts. 

“We are doing our best to explore options and propose long-term and short-term solutions to the Government. I have also received assurance from the Government of Australia that the decision regarding the application of Qantas and Jetstar will be announced in the first week of June.” 

Regarding direct flights to Santo, the DPM said that there is still no confirmation. Because of this, negotiations are ongoing with Virgin Australia and Air Nauru to reconnect the route from Brisbane to Santo and back. 

“We have two proposals under negotiation, and the deal will be finalised next week. Depending on reaching an agreement with these two airlines, there is a high possibility to reconnect Brisbane to Santo within two weeks,” he said. 

“The committee has worked very hard to find solutions to reconnect all the airports. Unfortunately, we are not in a position to make an announcement on this matter yet. The announcement regarding the future after Air Vanuatu will be released next Wednesday, once we finalise our negotiations with the new stakeholder and obtain approval from the COM for the committee’s recommendations. 

“We will then make a public announcement on Friday at the end of working hours about our future plans following the liquidation of Air Vanuatu.” 

The DPM encouraged every citizen to understand that the Government is aware of the difficulties the country is facing during this challenging time. Despite the hard decisions taken, the Government, through the Ministerial Taskforce committee, is committed to finding the best solutions.