Air Vanuatu (NF, Port Vila) will wet lease an ATR72-600 from Fiji Link (FJA, Nadi) after sending its only such aircraft – YJ-AV73 (msn 1358) – to Singapore for scheduled maintenance. According to data from Flightradar24 ADS-B, the Regional Transport Aircraft turboprop was flown to Singapore’s Seletar Airport on Saturday, September 17, via Cairns, Darwin and Denpasar for what the airline describes as normal maintenance.
“Air Vanuatu technical staff will accompany the ATR on its overseas journey as part of the airline’s maintenance oversight process,” an Air Vanuatu statement read. “The partnership with Fiji Airways will include the aircraft, the crew to operate the aircraft and the Fiji Airways support team which will be based in Vanuatu.”
Air Vanuatu says the arrival of the Fiji Link ATR72 will allow it to continue normal flight operations to Espiritu Santo and Tanna. However, Air Vanuatu ATR operated flights to Noumea La Tontouta and Nadi will temporarily cease with passengers transferring to Aircalin (SB, Noumea La Tontouta) and Fiji Airways (FJ, Nadi).
Fiji Link, which operates domestic flights on behalf of parent airline Fiji Airways, has two ATR72-600s; DQ-FJX (msn 1221) and DQ-FJZ (msn 1146).
State-owned Air Vanuatu found itself under some pressure regarding its fleet and capacity constraints. ch-aviation recently reported that the DHC-6-300 YJ-AV12 (msn 673) had been taken over by its owner, Hevilift (PNG) (Mount Hagen), which Air Vanuatu denies. A second Twin Otter is also facing legal action in Vanuatu courts, while the owner of Air Vanuatu’s only B737-800 is also threatening to repossess if ongoing talks do not soon result in continued refunds sums due.
Speculation surrounding the fate of Air Vanuatu’s fleet and government support for the airline recently forced Jay Ngwele, Minister for Infrastructure and Utilities, to come out in favor of the carrier, saying securing appropriate aircraft to operate the Air Vanuatu network remained key. priority. Meanwhile, Air Vanuatu has announced the acquisition of a second ATR72 if it can secure as-yet-unlocked financial support from the government.