Ernst & Young (EY) have confirmed they took control of Air Vanuatu (NF, Port Vila) on May 9, saying they will conduct fleet safety and maintenance checks before the resumption of normal operations. The state-owned airline has suspended flights until at least May 12 and replaced the board. The government called in the liquidators after a special resolution of shareholders pursuant to s.14 of the Companies Act No 03 (2013).

"The appointment follows a challenging period for the global aviation industry, including labour shortages, inflation affecting input costs, and a global increasing cost of credit environment," an EY statement reads. "The liquidators intend to resume normal trading as soon as possible, while considering all opportunities to place the carrier on a stronger footing. The existing management team will remain in place."

Meanwhile, Vanuatu's Prime Minister Sato Kilman announced a new board on May 9, with former PM Moana Carcasses Kalosil appointed chairman, replacing Alain Lew. Other new board members include Ministry of Finance representative Benjamin Shing, alongside Dunstan Hilton, Alexandre Perret, Herbert Joel Duvu, and Nigel Morrison.

Air Vanuatu flies to 30 airports across Vanuatu, New Zealand, Australia, Fiji, and New Caledonia. Both its single B737-800 and ATR72-500 are out of service for maintenance reasons, and the airline has relied on wet-leased aircraft supplied by Solomons - Solomon Airlines (IE, Honiara) and Nauru Airlines (Nauru) to maintain services. In a statement supplied to ch-aviation, Nauru Airlines did not say whether it intended to continue providing wet-leased services.

“Air Vanuatu is critical to the people of the Republic of Vanuatu and a strategically important business to the nation," said EY's Morgan Kelly. "The outlook for the airline is positive, despite pressures on the broader industry, and we will be focused on securing the future of this strategically vital national carrier."

Kelly elaborated during a press conference in Sydney on May 10, as quoted by Reuters: "We may end up with some kind of sale of the business to a private operator."