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Hundreds stranded as airline cancels flights

Port Vila Bay- Vila,Vanuatu
Hundreds of Australians are stranded in Vanuatu after an airline cancelled multiple flights. Picture: iStock

Hundreds of Australians are stranded at a popular island destination after multiple flights were cancelled.

At least 26 Air Vanuatu flights to Australia and New Zealand have been either cancelled or rescheduled since Friday.

Passenger Eva Wiland said she was meant to fly out at 7am on Sunday, but the flight was cancelled the day before with very little detail.

Aerial view of Erakor island in Port Vila, Vanuatu
Hundreds of Australians are stranded on Vanuatu after an airline cancelled multiple flights. Picture: Getty Images

“We were told not to go to the airport. Not to try to get another flight at the airport because it’s closed,” she told Today on Monday.

“We have no information.”

It is understood there is just one aircraft that flies between Port Vila and both Melbourne and Sydney airports.

Flights from Port Vila to Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Auckland have all been impacted, with the first flight expected to depart the island on Tuesday.

A Sydney woman due to fly with her family to Vanuatu on Monday shared her frustration on social media after being left with no choice but to cancel their holiday.

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At least 26 flights have been impacted by the engineering issue. Picture: Supplied

“Our rescheduled flight won’t be until next Monday, two days before we’re supposed to fly home,” Caitlin Chang said in a post to X, formerly known as Twitter on Sunday.

“This is the latest saga in our cursed holiday.

“Two weeks ago, we were told our hotel had gone bankrupt and was closing, so we had to book new accommodation - one week before school holidays.”

On Monday morning, she made the call saying, “officially canning our holiday”.

The airline issued a statement to their website on Sunday advising passengers an engineering issue was the cause of the mass flight cancellations.

“Air Vanuatu wishes to inform guests that due to an ongoing engineering requirement on our aircraft a number of our services are being impacted over the coming days,” the statement said.

In a separate statement to NCA NewsWire, the airline’s airport services manager Jody Southern said the Boeing 737 that services the Australian and NZ routes was waiting for a mechanical part.

“These disruptions were unforeseen, and we are very aware that numerous guests are either stuck in Vanuatu waiting to get home or unable to get to Vanuatu for their holiday,” she said.

“We are deeply sorry for the inconvenience and frustration this has caused our guests, particularly during the busy school holiday travel period, and we are doing what we can to get guests where they need to go as quickly as possible.”

The airline has rescheduled most flights, with some forced to stay as many as seven additional nights on the island before they can fly home.

Overview of Qantas, Air Vanuatu and China Eastern International aircraft at International Terminal of Sydney Airport in Sydney.
Some passengers will be forced to stay another week on the island. Picture: Supplied

Passengers due to fly from Port Vila to Sydney on Monday have been rebooked on a flight one week later on October 2.

Ms Southern said passengers stranded in Vanuatu are being assisted with accommodation and meals, and that a full refund policy had been implemented.

Guests are advised not to travel to the airport and the airline has promised to get in contact to reconfirm flight details.

Those who would like to cancel their trip are urged to contact their Travel Agent or the Air Vanuatu office to request a refund.

Air Vanuatu have advised passengers to keep checking their website for updates.

“We are hopeful the Australia and New Zealand services will be back on track before the end of this week,” Ms Southern said.

“Again, we are extremely apologetic for the impact these disruptions have had on our valued travellers.”

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