Hevilift (PNG) (Mount Hagen) has reportedly repossessed a DHC-6-300 from Air Vanuatu (NF, Port Vila) Twin Otter following a long-running dispute concerning overdue lease payments. The Twin Otter was placed with Air Vanuatu in 2016 but was ferried to Cairns, Australia, on Friday, August 26, after the government of Vanuatu failed to pay the final VUV4 million dollars (USD34,152) outstanding. The aircraft concerned is YJ-AV12 (msn 673).

According to Ni-Vanuatu media sources, as much as VUV41 million (USD350,049) was outstanding earlier this year, with Hevilift then threatening legal action and to repossess the plane. However, Hevilift and the Vanuatu government, owners of Air Vanuatu, reached a deal to fully settle the outstanding debts. In June, around VUV37 million (USD315,902) was paid to Hevilift, however, the balance was left unpaid.

The 19-seat twin-engine YJ-AV12 was manufactured in 1980 at De Havilland Canada and ended up at PNG Air (née Milne Bay Air) in 1996 before Hevilift PNG acquired the plane in 2013, the ch-aviation fleets history module shows. In September 2016, the aircraft was leased to Air Vanuatu via Capstone Aviation Pte. Ltd., a Singapore-based company associated with Hevilift. Until now, the Twin Otter had remained based in Vanuatu.

According to the ch-aviation fleets advanced module, Air Vanuatu had five aircraft before YJ-AV12 was repossessed, including two other Twin Otter -300s, one ATR72-600, and one B737-800. The Boeing jet and Avions de Transport Régional turboprop are owned while the Twin Otters are leased.

A dispute concerning a second Air Vanuatu Twin Otter is before the local courts. The owner of YJ-AV11 (msn 564) has taken legal action against Air Vanuatu over unpaid debts, with the Vanuatu Supreme Court conducting a pre-trial conference on August 23.

ch-aviation has made multiple attempts to speak to Air Vanuatu and Hevilift concerning the aircraft repossession without success.