Qantas Airways swoops into Air Vanuatu space by launching flights to Port Vila from Brisbane and Sydney

Neale Prior
The Nightly
Qantas is now flying direct to Port Vila in Vanuatu from Sydney and Brisbane seven days a week.
Qantas is now flying direct to Port Vila in Vanuatu from Sydney and Brisbane seven days a week. Credit: James D. Morgan/Getty Images

Qantas Airways has swept into space left by grounded ticketing partner Air Vanuatu, unveiling plans for seven weekly return flights to picturesque Port Vila.

Qantas planes will fly three return services from Brisbane to the Vanuatuan capital starting September 10, and budget service Jetstar has been earmarked for four weekly return services from Sydney starting December 12.

The new services fit with Qantas Airways chief executive Vanessa Hudson’s ambitions to expand the airlines offerings as its embarks on a $10 billion-plus upgrade of its ageing fleet.

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It is an attempt to create an opportunity from the problems created by Air Vanuatu falling into liquidation on May 10 and insolvency accountants grounding services connecting Australia directly to a cluster of islands.

People who booked Qantas-coded flights to and from Port Vila on grounded Air Vanuatu aircraft had to seek refunds from the Australian carrier or their travel agent.

Virgin Airways is now offering services from Brisbane to Port Vila up to five times a week, asking between $398 and $755 for a no-frills economy seat on the 160 minute hop across the Pacific.

Qantas is hedging its bets on the success of its Vanuatu offering, saying it has the capacity to provide an extra two weekly return flights from Brisbane depending on demand.

Qantas International chief Cam Wallace said the new route would help meet continued demand for travel between Australia and Vanuatu.

“We’ve long served Vanuatu through our code share partnership,” he said.

“This new route ensures our customers have more choice and consistent service to the island destination we know they enjoy.”

The new flight plans are subject to government and regulatory approvals.

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