New CEO Appointed at Air Vanuatu

Air Vanuatu Board chairman, Joel Lengsau (r) officially welcomes new Air Van CEO, Derek Nice (l)

The Board of Directors of Air Vanuatu has appointed a new Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Mr. Derek Nice.

Mr. Nice brings more than 30 years of experience in the aviation industry, as well as CEO and other executive positions in Canada; assignments in the US, the Caribbean and South America; and operational support, consulting and marketing relationships with airlines in 30 different countries, including Asia and the Pacific.

He brings a strong background in governance, operations and commercial management, including experience in selecting and mentoring high performance management teams.

Mr. Nice has an MBA and a B.Sc. in Air Transport Management, and is a chartered director.

The recruitment process began over two years ago and the current board of directors appointed in November 2017 decided to entrust the recruitment to an external recruitment company, Consulting Vanuatu who was tasked with finding a chief executive officer with the international experience and leadership required in airline operations and management to successfully lead the national carrier through the next phase of its growth.

Over 100 local, regional and international applicants applied for the role. The selection process narrowed the field to twenty for reference checks then to eight for interviews. Eventually three applicants were presented to the board before Mr. Nice was recommended for the role.

Mr. Nice’s key priorities will be to ensure that Air Vanuatu continues to be a leader in safety and customer service; operates with a profitable financial position, that its management and employees can meet the challenges of ongoing growth; and the airline can continue to develop its domestic and international route networks to provide the connectivity essential for Vanuatu’s economic and social development.

“I’ve been impressed by the friendliness and enthusiasm of the people I’ve met at Air Vanuatu,” Mr. Nice said.

“I’m hoping that together we can grow our airline to be a profitable leader in the South Pacific aviation, introducing Vanuatu and its people to more travellers from more countries, and further strengthening transportation links between the provinces and islands of Vanuatu.”

Outgoing CEO Joseph Laloyer is leaving Air Vanuatu after guiding the company through significant change and investment. In his time as CEO, Mr. Laloyer oversaw the addition of one Twin Otter, two new ATR aircraft and the new Boeing 737-800 as well as the re-registration of IOSA in just six months and the return to our Qantas codeshare partnership.

“After eight years in the role, I am looking forward to handing over to Derek who will continue to grow the airline whilst bringing with him a particular expertise required to ensure we have the best possible team in marketing, finance, operations, quality, safety, good governance and risk management.”

Mr. Laloyer has guided Air Vanuatu through some very challenging times, particularly since cyclone Pam, and was thanked by the Board of Directors for his long service, dedication and commitment to Air Vanuatu.

“It has been a long journey and I have been privileged to serve the government of Vanuatu as the CEO of the national carrier for the last eight years, and indeed the airline for the last 22 I have been working here. We have achieved so much, from fleet review and upgrade, our IOSA accreditation and our successful codeshare partnerships, to guiding the airline through some very tough financial times.

“It has been a lot of hard work and I am very grateful for the opportunity and wish Derek the very best for his tenure at Air Vanuatu.”

Mr. Laloyer and Mr. Nice will work together during a handover period to ensure continuity and to fully understand the current issues and priorities of the shareholders of Air Vanuatu.

Mr. Laloyer will also act in the role as GM Airports until a permanent appointment is made.

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