Zoom Image

Port Vila, the capital of Vanuatu

Photo: Lafargue Raphael / ABACAPRESS / IMAGO

East of Australia and north of New Zealand, the island nation of Vanuatu is located in the South Pacific. It has over 80 islands and more than 300,000 inhabitants – but only one long-haul jet of the airline Air Vanuatu. This has now become a problem.

Hundreds of passengers have been stranded in the South Seas paradise of Vanuatu for days because the national airline's only long-haul aircraft is no longer functional. Since last Friday, 20 international connections have been cancelled or postponed to another day after a mechanical problem occurred with the Boeing 737, the New Zealand news site Stuff reported on Wednesday, citing Air Vanuatu (click here for the report). The company is waiting for a spare part, but it is difficult to obtain.

Not the first problem of the 737

According to media reports, the stranded are mainly Australians and New Zealanders. The airline of the island nation of Nauru had stepped in to operate at least some of the canceled flights, Air Vanuatu said in a statement on Monday. Until the Boeing is repaired, everything will be done to help the affected passengers, said Jonas George, a spokesman for the airline. "We continue to provide accommodation and food to travellers stranded in Vanuatu, and we keep the service desk at Port Vila Airport staffed at all times," George explained. They are also in contact with other airlines, including Nauru Airlines.

It is not the first time this year that Air Vanuatu's Boeing 737-800 has caused problems and has to stay on the ground: At the end of March, the aircraft had a technical problem in Brisbane, Australia. At that time, it took several weeks until the necessary spare part could be installed and the plane took off again.