A file of an Air Vanuatu Boeing 737-800 (Wikimedia Commons/Paul Spijkers)

A file of an Air Vanuatu Boeing 737-800 (Wikimedia Commons/Paul Spijkers)

Richard Butler | Australian Aviation | 30 Jan 2019

Air Vanuatu will add a third Australian destination to its route network from June when it begins nonstop flights to Melbourne from its Port Vila hub.

The airline plans to serve Melbourne three times per week with Boeing 737-800s. It will be the only carrier on the route.

The flights kick off on June 18 and have been scheduled as a morning departure from Melbourne, arriving in Port Vila in the afternoon. Meanwhile, the reciprocal takes off from Port Vila in the late afternoon for an evening arrival at Tullamarine.

Currently, Air Vanuatu flies from Port Vila to Brisbane and Sydney. Qantas codeshares on Air Vanuatu’s flights between Australia and Vanuatu.

The only other airline with nonstop flights between Australia and Vanuatu is Virgin Australia, which is on the Brisbane-Port Vila route.

Air Vanuatu chief executive Derek Nice said he was thrilled to be launching the airline’s nonstop flights to Melbourne.

“The launch of this new route will be particularly exciting for people living in Melbourne who have already discovered the wonders of Vanuatu and can’t wait to go back,” Nice said in a statement.

“They can travel non-stop, on conveniently timed flights, giving them more time in our island paradise.”

Nice said Qantas would also be codesharing on the new Melbourne-Port Vila service, subject to regulatory and government approvals.

Further, Air Vanuatu would offer onward connections to 28 destinations across Vanuatu from Port Vila.

Vanuatu Tourism Office chief executive Adela Issachar said she hoped the four-hour nonstop flight would bring more visitors to the country.

“Like the people of Vanuatu, a holiday in Vanuatu is full of fun, inspired by the cheeky spirit delivered with a big Ni-Vanuatu smile,” Issachar said in a statement.

“Now is the time to get Vanuatu on your bucket list.”

Port Vila will be Melbourne Tullamarine’s sixth destination in the South Pacific alongside Auckland and Christchurch (Air New Zealand, Jetstar, Qantas and Virgin Australia), Nadi (Fiji Airways and Virgin Australia), Noumea (Aircalin), Queenstown (Air New Zealand, Jetstar and Virgin Australia) and Wellington (Air New Zealand, Qantas and Singapore Airlines).