NZ’s Deputy PM says Air NZ should reassess Vanuatu flights

New Zealand’s Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters says the country’s reputation could be tainted by the national flag carrier’s refusal to fly into Vanuatu’s Bauerfield airport.

Air New Zealand pulled flights out of Port Vila in January 2016 citing concerns over the state of the runway.

However there have been various repairs since then and airlines such as Virgin Australia have resumed services.

During a visit to Port Vila Mr Peters said he was aware of the important part tourism played in the local economy.

The minister said the visiting delegation is returning home fully apprised of the situation and they will be making their thoughts well known to Air New Zealand.

“Our nation’s reputation is on the line here in a way and the original excuse, if it was to have an validity, has gone. It still means we have got to have a talk to them, so to speak, in the interests of the Vanuatu people,” Winston Peters said.

Winston Peters said while ministers can’t interfere with the management of the airline they can still make comments on issues.

A World Bank project to upgrade asphalt at Bauerfield is due for completion this month.

Vanuatu Airport authorities say even with safety concerns eased a shortage of aircraft could continue to hamper a reintroduction of services to Port Vila.

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