Vanuatu Holiday Inn is Back, Port Vila Runway Repaired (Again), Virgin Australia Back (Again)

Vanuatu is on a halting comeback trail.

The Holiday Inn Resort Vanuatu reopened June 1 after a 15-month closure from damage caused by Cyclone Pam. It is the only major chain points hotel in Vanuatu. IHG reward nights are 20,000 points.

Port Vila Bauerfield International Airport (named after WWII Guadalcanal Battle US Marine pilot and posthumous Medal of Honor recipient Harold W. Bauer) had Virgin Australia and Air New Zealand flights suspended earlier this year. Air New Zealand has not resumed flights since emergency runway repairs. Virgin Australia resumed in May, then suspended again for a week in August and as of August 9 has again resumed flights. Air Vanuatu and Fiji Airways have operated throughout. With its namesake history it would be a good story for the US to help complete long-term repairs.

Bauerfield International Airport

Vanuatu impressed me on a short visit as a cosmopolitan Pacific outpost from its pre-independence joint British-French rule. There is wide variety of activities from beaches to coffee plantations. Large cruise ships call on Vanuatu which provides for more tourist infrastructure than most Pacific islands. It is a good starter Pacific island for families that even with reduced flights, is relatively accessible.

Port Vila War Memorial

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  • Glenn (The Military Frequent Flyer)

    Vanuatu is a great little country. Been there four times. To see the real Vanuatu, I suggest you get out to Espiritu Santo where you can see Million Dollar Point and dive the U.S.S. Coolidge or get to Tanaa and see a live volcano.

  • john

    thanks. I did not actually know anything about Vanuatu. I thought it was a quiet/dead place. Its interesting that those airlines pulled out. How bad was the runway? I wonder if the route is just not that profitable for them anyway.
    I can’t see AA or others pulling out of Aruba/St Maarten even if the runway is not perfect….

  • @john – I had the same preconception going in. Then I saw all the real estate offices and the rest in Port Vila. Big expat contingent, lots with Aussie accents. I can see that Air NZ might not bother with it. Australia would seem to have a big market for it, Air Vanuatu even uses the Qantas frequent flyer program. Virgin Australia is a shambles in the Pacific so that could be part of it. I don’t know how to judge a runway’s condition, or what it says when Air Vanuatu and Fiji both operate, how much is political and how much is legitimate safety or not. My flights were packed.