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Vanuatu looking to finalize Air Services Agreement with China

Talks for long haul flights between the Pacific island nation of Vanuatu and China remain on track.

Vanuatu’s recently had talks with officials from the Civil Aviation Administration of China during the Asia Pacific (APAC) Ministerial Conference and the nature of the discussions was described as “positive.”

Director of Civil Aviation Authority of Vanuatu (CAAV), Joseph Niel and the First Political Advisor to the Minister of Infrastructure and Public Utilities, Bakoa Kaltongga, had crucial bilateral talks with the Deputy Director General of the Civil Aviation Administration of China, Chen Wei.

Niel shared that Vanuatu’s case had three vital areas and his country has earmarked US$59 million on the Bauerfield runway, which includes the rehabilitation and upgrading of Pekoa and Whitegrass airports

He added that the completion of the said projects would place Vanuatu in a better position to establish the aforementioned long haul flights straight from China.

Niel also remarked that the VAIP project’s goal is to resolve critical areas in Vanuatu’s aviation environment as pinpointed by ICAO’s Universal Safety Oversight Program (USOAP).

The Chinese official was told Vanuatu’s Government is seeking for flights from China direct to Vanuatu and that preparations are being carefully evaluated at the moment.

Niel requested for the finalization of an Air Services Agreement (ASA) between their two nations that would consider the upgrades to Bauerfield as a precursor to the agreement.

Wei responded that his organization had already received Vanuatu’s proposed draft of the ASA and that they are working closely with the CAAV to make sure it is signed by the end of this year.

Another issue that Niel placed up for discussion was that CAAV noted CAAC may have particular safety requirements with respect to Chinese aircraft and airlines operating to destinations outside China.

In lieu of this, a request has been made for a CAAC Technical team to pay a visit to Vanuatu to evaluate its existing Safety Standards and Aerodrome Structures at Bauerfield, which includes the runway that is being constructed by CCECC and temporary refurbishments by Airports Vanuatu Limited to Bauerfield Aerodrome.

Wei also gave his assurance that CAAC would aid the CAAV and MIPU in marketing Bauerfield to Chinese airline firms and aircrafts that are looking to establish operations in Vanuatu.

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