But Airports Vanuatu Ltd (AVL) has bigger goals in sight, including growing existing markets, developing routes to longer haul destinations and building a new airport terminal. ‘We need to be competitive regionally, and internationally,’ AVL CEO Jason Rakau told delegates at Vanuatu’s Tok Tok late last week. ‘We are working towards Code E compliance for wide body aircraft and the 787 is our reference for targeting aircraft for this airport.’ When AVL visited Routes Asia in Brisbane recently, the big question was ‘when is the runway getting done?’ ‘We are 57% towards completion,’ says Rakau. ‘We are doing civil works, we’ve mobilised equipment and aggregate; and the expansion of the airport parking apron and widened shoulders are almost complete.’ Rakau says airport activity is almost back up to levels pre-Cyclone Pam.
‘A 15% growth in airline capacity over the next six months is an indicator of what we can expect over the next five years.’ And it’s over this medium term that Rakau sees potential for growth in existing markets. ‘Melbourne shows the biggest potential, and possibly seasonally from Christchurch,’ he says. Building Asia through the hubs in an effort to gain scheduled flights to Asian ports is also in the long-term plan. ‘Developing long haul takes a long time,’ says Rakau, ‘We’ll be attending World Routes 2018 Guangzhou this month.’ While a new terminal is in the 10 to 20 year time-frame, improvements already completed to the existing terminal include new lighting, floors, ceilings and bathrooms.