Air Vanuatu postpones A220 deliveries

CEO Derek Nice to depart in late June, search for replacement begins

Air Vanuatu has placed on hold the delivery of two new Airbus A220 aircraft expected as part of the airline’s ‘New Era, New Look’ strategy. The first of the new jets, an A220-300, was slated for delivery in July and was to be deployed on the Port Vila-Brisbane route. The second aircraft, an A220-100, was expected in November.

Unveiled by Air Vanuatu’s Board of Directors, the new strategy focuses on a simplified organisation, with a trimmed down management team and the replacement of most expatriate managers by qualified Vanuatu nationals in specific positions.

“We are returning Air Vanuatu to the people,” said Chairman Sam Firi.

“We will do an overall review of our international and domestic operations and evaluate outsourcing of our maintenance department. We are in discussion with the Civil Aviation Authority of Vanuatu and other stakeholders to facilitate these processes, in consultation with the management. We want to ensure that Air Vanuatu is self-sufficient in the long-run.”

The COVID-19 economic crisis and closure of international borders were cited for the airline’s decision to postpone the entry of the single-aisle A220s. The pandemic will also see Air Vanuatu move forward with plans to restructure its workforce, beginning this month.

It was also announced that CEO Derek Nice has decided not to renew his contract when it expires on 25 June.

In a message to employees, Nice said he made the decision in the “best interests of the company, giving the new Board of Directors the freedom to implement the new directives mandated by the shareholders in the Vanuatu Government to make the changes they believe are needed to ensure our recovery.”

Nice’s departure marks the return of former CEO Joseph Laloyer, who will take over as Acting CEO while the board finalises the recruitment of a new Chief Executive Officer.

Laloyer previously worked with the airline for over 30 years, last serving as CEO in 2018.

Lead image: Air Vanuatu Airbus A220 rendering

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