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Pacific Islands Development Program, East-West Center

With Support From Center for Pacific Islands Studies, University of Hawai‘i

Air Vanuatu Seeks Means To Resume Full Service To Fiji
CEO says company seems to be ‘intentionally’ left out

PORT VILA, Vanuatu (Vanuatu Daily Post, Nov. 28, 2012) – Air Vanuatu Chief Executive Officer, Joseph Laloyer, has called on the Vanuatu government to assist the airline in restoring its codeshare partnership with Solomon Airlines, recently suspended by the government of Fiji.

Air Vanuatu announced the new codeshare service from Vila to Nadi earlier this month which was welcomed by the industry.

"We were thrilled to renew our partnership with Solomon Airlines, particularly after Air Pacific without reason, terminated our long standing codeshare service on the same route," Mr. Laloyer said.

The Government of Fiji advised Air Vanuatu the codeshare agreement did not meet the requirements of Fiji’s Air Services Agreement (ASA) which allows for only the designated carriers of Vanuatu and Fiji to operate services between the two countries.

"We are seeking clarification on this matter, as it seems to us that we are intentionally being kept out of the Nadi market - first with Air Pacific canceling our codeshare and now with their government saying we can’t codeshare with another carrier," Mr. Laloyer said.

According to the ASA, only Air Pacific and Air Vanuatu can operate flights between the two countries - however restrictions apply to Air Vanuatu only, with Air Pacific selling seats between Honiara and Port Vila - and they are not a designated carrier for either destination.

The Solomon Airlines has a codeshare agreement in place with Air Niugini that allows them to sell seats on flights from Honiara to Fiji - without operating their own aircraft. According to Fiji’s interpretation of the ASA, this service would also not meet the requirements of the ASA.

Air Vanuatu operates its own Vila to Suva service which had been performing well but was recently suspended whilst the ATR-72 has been offline due to overseas maintenance. The flights will resume once the ATR returns to Vanuatu, hopefully by the end of the month.

"Our Suva flight has been very popular with business and student travelers in particular, especially with our unmatched 30 kilogram bag allowance and bigger aircraft," Mr. Laloyer said.

"However the agreement with Solomon Airlines allowed passengers to connect to other international flights from Nadi and was filling a gap in the market," he said.

"We hope the spirit of co-operation endorsed by the Melanesian Spearhead Group charter will allow for the Solomons/Air Vanuatu codeshare to resume and hope our government will be able to assist at the negotiating table," Mr. Laloyer said.

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