Air Vanuatu has received an independent assessment of Bauerfield airport from Airport Consultancy Group (ACG) in Australia and announced yesterday it is satisfied the condition of the runway is safe to continue jet operations.

The report done by ACG found no sign of any foreign object debris of any size on the runway surface and recommended “runway sweeping operations should continue at its current frequency until such a time as surface rejuvenation is undertaken”.

The report further recommended contingency plans for Air Vanuatu in order to maintain safe operations, including the requirement for Airports Vanuatu Limited (AVL) to remove excess water from the runway prior to landing during heavy rainfall.

Air Vanuatu management says it has been attending daily briefings with Airports Vanuatu Limited (the operator of Bauerfield airport) and the Civil Aviation Authority of Vanuatu (CAAV) and is grateful for the open and honest discussions.

“We have been pleased with the swift response of the authorities to increase precautionary measures at our request.

“We continue to share information with overseas carriers, some of whom have not attended any of these briefings nor conducted independent inspections, yet suspended jet services.

“As the national carrier, it is our responsibility to provide a safe and reliable service to passengers.

“We are continuing to do so.

“We welcome passengers from other carriers to contact our offices in Auckland and Sydney to continue with their Vanuatu holiday plans.

“Our brand new Boeing 737-800 operated its first commercial service today (Wednesday 03 February) in safe conditions.

“It will be serviced and maintained by Qantas Engineering in Brisbane every week.

“Our flight captains have the final say should the extra safety measures in place, including daily mechanical ‘sweeping’ of the runway and removing excess water not meet our standards.

“Air Vanuatu operates under a safety first policy at all times and will continue to do so.

“Should conditions deteriorate before the planned upgrade of the runway commences, we will review services to Port Vila,” the national carrier revealed yesterday.

Airports Vanuatu Limited is reportedly working closely with stakeholders to ensure the planned upgrade of the runway takes place before conditions deteriorate.

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