Air Vanuatu (NF, Port Vila) has announced it will lease in B737-300 capacity from fellow Pacific island carrier Nauru Airlines (ON, Nauru) to cover demand on its international routes during peak seasons through until January 2020.

The Ni-Vanuatu carrier said in a statement the aircraft will be used to operate new services between Brisbane Int'l, Australia, and Espiritu Santo and Port Vila on Wednesdays, Fridays, and Sundays each week commencing June 18, 2018. Between February 2 and 11 it is also using a Nauru airlines aircraft on all of its narrowbody flights to cover for maintenance of its own B737-800.

"Leasing this aircraft allows our own B737-800 to increase services to Sydney Kingsford Smith and Auckland Int'l," Air Vanuatu chief executive, Joseph Laloyer, said. "During peak seasons, we will be operating daily flights to Sydney and four flights a week to Auckland. We expect the additional capacity to make a significant boost to tourism in Vanuatu."

Laloyer said the deal with Nauru Airlines was one of several partnerships his carrier had cultivated over the past year - among them Solomons - Solomon Airlines (IE, Honiara) and Air Niugini (PX, Port Moresby) - in a bid to boost Vanuatu's tourism profile in the region.

“I am very excited about 2018; we worked tirelessly in 2016 and ‘17 to ensure we would be able to increase our capacity and ultimately boost tourism in Vanuatu. To achieve this, we’ve worked behind the scenes in all departments to ensure codeshare agreements were in place and build new partnerships to provide stability and growth for the airline."

"This year is also our IOSA year, my team is well prepared as we begin the process again of our re-certification. 2018 is going to be a busy, successful year for Air Vanuatu,” Laloyer added.

Aside from the B737-800, Air Vanuatu also operates one ATR72-500, one ATR72-600, and three DHC-6-300s on scheduled passenger flights throughout Vanuatu as well as to New Caledonia.