Air Vanuatu (NF, Port Vila) has returned its only B737-800 to service and then brought its single ATR72-600 back into service this week, helping to ease a capacity squeeze at the small South Pacific carrier.

As ch-aviation recently reported, Air Vanuatu grounded its only passenger jet, YJ-AV8 (msn 42052) in September after discovering an auxiliary power unit (APU) that was outside of limits in the turbine area. However, the B737-800 returned to service on September 30.

"International schedules have been operational, and international travel backlogs were quickly resolved," reads an October 4 statement from Air Vanuatu. "Final mechanical works on the B737-800 are scheduled to take place when the required equipment arrives from Europe mid-month. This work will be conducted overnight and is not expected to affect any flights."

The same statement also said that the carrier's sole ATR, YJ-AV73 (msn 1358), was returning to service on October 5, earlier than expected. FlightAware ADS-B tracking data indicates that the aircraft went out of service on September 30 and recommenced flights on October 5 with the route Port Vila-Tanna-Port Vila. "The work required by the aircraft manufacturer involved changing props," reads the statement. "Each airline with an ATR aircraft in the Pacific must do the same upgrade."

In addition to the B737 and the ATR72, Air Vanuatu operates two DHC-6-300s and wet-leases a third from Solomons - Solomon Airlines (IE, Honiara). Air Vanuatu flies to 32 destinations in five countries. Aside from domestic services, it operates to airports in Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, and New Caledonia. Like other operators in the region with small fleets that are reliant on a single aircraft type to cover large parts of their network, unplanned incidents involving an aircraft going out of service can cause major disruptions to the airline and its passengers.