Three passengers were removed from an Air Vanuatu flight that departed from Auckland in New Zealand for Port Vila on Thursday night.
Air Vanuatu’s Commercial Manager, Geoff Murdoch says the three were intoxicated and were abusive to the flight crew.
The police were called in and the three were taken off the flight. Mr Murdoch says any form of threatening behaviour towards any flight crew will not be tolerated as it makes travel uncomfortable for everyone and his staff do not deserve to be abused.
Two of the three passengers that were offloaded are Fisheries Observers who were transiting through Auckland on their way home after returning from Tahiti. The others' status are unknown.
Director of Fisheries, William Naviti, confirmed two of the passengers had served as observers for five months in the seas of Cook Islands and Tahiti. Mr Naviti said they are first-timers and that this is also their very first trip overseas.
He also confirmed the pair are in their 20s and that an internal investigation is underway.
Mr Naviti said before leaving they signed a code of conduct and drunkenness is something he as Director strongly discourages.
The Director said Ni-Vanuatu observers have a good reputation and are in high demand within the Pacific. However, he is encouraging others who want to become observers to behave well and maintain Vanuatu's good reputation as they are not only fisheries observers but ambassadors of the nation.
Mr Naviti said an internal investigation will take place once they arrive home and a decision will be made whether they can return for a second duty.
Currently Vanuatu has 15 active fisheries observers around the Pacific, including one female.
Meanwhile, Mr Murdoch has cautioned future passengers not to get too drunk to the point of embarrassing themselves and others before boarding any flight.
He said flight attendants and pilots have the right to confiscate any drinks from passengers which they have brought onboard. He discourages drinking any alcoholic drinks other than those served by the flight attendants.