PORT VILA, VANUATU — Air Vanuatu grounds its only Boeing 737-800, causing flight cancellations to Australia and New Zealand due to mechanical issues and a shortage of spare parts. The cancellations have been extended through April 7, a week after the problems were first identified.

On April 4, the airline announced in a statement that it is urgently seeking parts from Boeing offices in the United States and Australia, which has caused additional delays in resuming operations.

Air Vanuatu has sought help from other Pacific carriers to transport stranded passengers, but notes that there is limited capacity to do so, as all flights are fully booked.

The airline advises that passengers who have not yet started their journeys will be unable to travel until at least this weekend.

These cancellations coincide with the busy Easter travel season and school holidays in Australia and New Zealand. Furthermore, this comes shortly after Air Vanuatu resumed international flights following a tropical cyclone in the region.

Air Vanuatu operates only five aircraft: a 737, a single ATR 72, one Britten-Norman BN-2B Islander, and two Viking Air DHC-6s. The airline uses the 737 for flights to Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, and Auckland, while its turboprop fleet serves neighboring Pacific countries and domestic routes.

Over the past six months, the airline has faced a series of operational challenges. In November 2022, maintenance on its ATR 72 required the use of the 737 for domestic routes, resulting in schedule changes. In December, the airline canceled international flights due to a mechanical issue with the 737 and relied on its partnership with Australian carrier Qantas to transport stranded passengers from Vanuatu.

The grounded 737 (YJ-AV8, MSN42052) was first delivered to the airline in 2016 and is managed by Air Lease Corporation.

Air Vanuatu has previously expressed interest in expanding its jet aircraft fleet, even placing orders for the Airbus A220 in 2019, which were later canceled.