Buoyed by forward bookings that are exceeding pre-pandemic levels, Atu Finau, CEO of Air Vanuatu (NF, Port Vila) has indicated he is looking to double the airline's fleet. With the state-owned carrier currently employing an in-house fleet of one ATR72-600, one B737-800, and two DHC-6-300s, Air Vanuatu is operating at full capacity now and presently wet-leases in aircraft from other airlines in the region to help it maintain its scheduled services.

Finau briefed Port Vila-based businesses in a confidential meeting on Thursday, November 17 saying that while some of the airline's financial problems could be attributed to Covid-19, many predated it. He said he thinks Vanuatu can be a big beneficiary of the high long-haul travel costs that is seeing many Australians and New Zealanders now look closer to home for their holidays.

"This provides a great opportunity to Vanuatu to benefit from revenues generated from the increased Pacific tourism from Australia and New Zealand. If we are all ready and attract these clients to our shores," the airline said in a statement following the meeting.

With its single B737-800 and assorted similar-sized aircraft variously wet-leased from Air Nauru, Fiji Airways, and Solomons - Solomon Airlines, Air Vanuatu manages to maintain a schedule of international flights to Brisbane Int'l, Sydney Kingsford Smith, Melbourne Tullamarine, and Auckland Int'l. In March 2023, Virgin Australia (VA, Brisbane Int'l) will join Air Vanuatu on the Brisbane - Port Vila route, initially offering five B737-800 roundtrip flights per week. Finau told the meeting that the competition would hurt his airline in the short-term but he believes the increased demand for flights to South Pacific nations will benefit Air Vanuatu in the longer term.

Finau did not provide specific details on what additional aircraft he would like to acquire, how, or when. Previous plans to acquire additional aircraft, albeit not during Finau's tenure, have fallen over, often at a significant financial cost to the small airline. ch-aviation has approached Air Vanuatu's CEO for further details on his future fleet plans.