The Vanuatu government is committed to making its struggling flag carrier Air Vanuatu (NF, Port Vila) profitable again, according to Finance Minister Johnny Koanapo.

The Daily Post reports he made the comment on the occasion of a VUV210 million vatu (USD1.8 million) loan repayment from the Ifira Ports Development Services (IPDS), a joint venture partnership between the government and Ifira Trustees Limited (ITL) for the development of a new international multi-purpose wharf and container yard at the Lapetasi wharf in Port Vila, Vanuatu.

“It is my wish that other SOEs [state-owned enterprises] which the government has heavily invested in reach a level like IPDS. One of them, Air Vanuatu, is very challenging; however, this government will be turning it profitable in the coming months and years,” he said. “It was a profitable company until people brought in began manipulating or twisting the system to a point where profits got driven out of the country,” he said.

On the same occasion, Vanuatu National Provident Fund (VNPF) Chairman and Ministry of Finance and Economic Management Director-General Letlet August said the VNPF was looking to partner with the government in its strategic investments like Air Vanuatu.

In November, Koanapo said the government would shortly inject more than VUV200 million (USD1.76 million) into Air Vanuatu to sustain its operations.

Despite support from the government, Air Vanuatu has faced financial crises over the past years, which have been blamed on mismanagement. In particular, the previous leadership’s decision in 2019 to order two A220-100s and two A220-300s has been highly controversial. The order for one of the A220-300s has since been dropped.

Air Vanuatu’s fleet currently comprises one ATR72-600, one B737-800, and three DHC-6-300 Twin Otters, according to ch-aviation fleets advanced data, as well as two BN-2s.