AirlineSpotlight: Air Vanuatu

Air Vanuatu

Quick Explaination About AirlineSpotlight

This is a series of posts that I will make where I will give information about a lesser known airline. If many of you enjoy this I will try to make one of these once per week. Please note that while most of the information comes from Wikipedia I will not be just copying and pasting from it.


Basic Facts

Anyway, this first post is about the flag carrier of the country of Vanuatu. They have a fleet of 7 aircraft that serve 37 destinations throughout Australia, New Zealand and the southern Pacific. The operate out of Bauerfield International Airport. Now that were done the basic facts, lets get to the fleet and then the history of the airline.


  • ATR-72-500 (2)

  • ATR-72-600 (1)

  • DHC-6 Twin Otter (3)

  • Boeing 737-800 (1)


The airline was founded in 1981 shortly after the independence of Vanuatu. When the airline started off Ansett Airlines gave them assistance by providing aircraft and operating staff for 5 years. The first flight for the airline which was on a DC-9-31 on September 5th, 1981. The aircraft made the journey from Sydney to Port Villa, this flight although using the Air Vanuatu name was operated by Ansett. The one DC-9-31 would have a short time in the fleet before being replaced in 1985 by a 737-200. Sadly the next year the deal with Ansett expired and this grounded the airline temporarily.

This was not the end of the airline though, in 1987 the airline was reestablished this time with 100% ownership by the government of Vanuatu (Compared to the 60% they previously had). They continued to operate the Port Villa to Sydney route, now with a 727-200, but like the DC-9 this aircraft would have a short life with the airline. On July 25, 1991 tragedy would strike as a Britten-Norman Islander crashed on the island of Espiritu Santo, the aircraft was found after a four day search by helicopter where it was then determined that there were no survivors. It was determined that the crash occurred due to pilot error. In 1992 the 727 was replaced by a 737-400 that was leased from Australian. The next year an EMB-110 was also leased from the same airline. In October 1993 Australian was acquired by Qantas, but thankfully the aircraft leases continued with Qantas. Qantas is still involved in the airlines operations today, for example Air Vanuatu uses with Qantas Frequent Flyer Program.

Eventually the airline would terminate the lease on the 737-400, finally they bought a plane for themselves, a 737-300. For a short time as well they leased a Saab 2000, but this was replaced in 1999 by a de Havilland Canada Dash 8 that was previously owned by Vanair (A government owned airline). In April 2001, Air Vanuatu and Vanair merged, although the merger was undone only five months later. In November of 2003 an ATR 42 entered service so there could be competition with Vanair, but once again in 2004 the two airlines merged. Four years after this Air Vanuatu would receive a 737-800 which would replace the 737-300 and become their flagship aircraft. Sadly on December 19, 2008 tragedy would once again strike the airline. Another Britten-Norman Islander crashed into a mountain near Olpoi Airport, which was on the same island the last crashed occurred on. The crash killed the pilot, but thankfully all the passengers survived, the reason behind the crash was likely due to the foggy weather at the time. The next year the airline would receive three Harbin Y-12s and an ATR-72-500 to replace the ATR 42. In 2014 the airline received a second ATR-72-500, also the Harbin Y-12s would be replaced by Twin Otters. Just last year the airline retired their older 737-800 and replaced it with one leased straight from the factory.

Thanks for reading the first post of my series, if you enjoy it please let me know so I can make more.


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Very nice topic. Happy to see more in future. :D

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Thanks for the feedback, next topic will be up next week Tuesday. If you or anyone else has a specific airline that you want me to cover let me know.

It’s a very pretty livery

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Interesting fact air nz pulled out of Vanuatu route as the runway condition was not up to standard

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I absolutely give my support for this! I love learning about the lesser known airlines :)

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I loved flying with Air Vanuatu. I got to fly their 738 twice, I wish I could go on their turboprops

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