Air Vanuatu has returned to Melbourne Airport launching the carriers three time a week service between Port Villa and Melbourne.
Marking the return of the airlines services to Melbourne was a ceremony conducted outside gate 20 of the International terminal.
Standing outside on the hardstand was the airlines Boeing 737-8SH, wearing registration YJ-AV8, on a cold and dark Melbourne morning. A stark contrast to the passengers who will arrive to a beautiful and warm 27 degrees later on that day.
Launching the service was Melbourne Airport Chief of Aviation David Hall, who was thrilled to announce another airline to his airports ever growing portfolio, adding more destinations served from Melbourne. “The service to Port Villa is a big win for Victorian travellers as well as holiday makers in Tasmania and Adelaide who use Melbourne as a hub to reach overseas destinations”, said Mr Hall.
Also present at the launch was Air Vanuatu Managing Director and CEO Derek Nice. “We (Air Vanuatu) are excited to commence our new direct service today from Melbourne Airport to Port Vila, Vanuatu. Our direct nonstop morning flight, which sees our guests arrive in Vanuatu by lunchtime is a great opportunity for Victorian’s to explore our idyllic island nation and immerse themselves in the Melanesian spirit from the moment they arrive”.
The airline will fly to and from Melbourne on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays with departure from Melbourne at 7am.
The first Air Vanuatu flight, operated by a McDonnell Douglas DC-9-31 which was owned and operated by Ansett, departed Sydney for Port Vila on 5 September 1981. In May 1982 a Boeing 737–200 of Polynesian Airlines replaced the DC-9. This in turn was replaced by an Ansett 737-200 in October 1985. Air Vanuatu commenced operations in its own right in 1987 first leasing a Boeing 727-200 from Australian flying from Port Villa to Sydney. Main cities such as Sydney, Melbourne, Auckland and Brisbane are its principal destinations.
In 2004 the Government of Vanuatu decided to join the operations of Vanair, a well established domestic inter-island airline, with the international operations of Air Vanuatu. Noumea was added to its international schedule and the next generation Boeing 737-800 replaced the older 737-400 model then in service. Air Vanuatu is one of a few airlines using the Chinese made, regional turboprop Y-12 aircraft.
The airlines current fleet includes, three Viking Air DHC-6 Twin Otters, two Yunshuji T-12, two ATR 72, two Britten Norman BN-2 and a single Boeing 737-800.
Air Vanuatu has ordered two Airbus A220-100s and two A220-300s, making it the launch customer for the A220 in the South Pacific. The first delivery from the order is due in June 2020.
ASO again wishes to thank Melbourne Airport Corporation and Air Vanuatu for their assistance.