In June 2021, Vanuatu Minister of Foreign Affairs, Marc Ati and Chinese Ambassador to Vanuatu Zhou Haicheng have had a friendly discussion on the launching of regular flights between the two countries.
In order to promote economic recovery and bilateral pragmatic cooperation in the post-pandemic era, the two sides have agreed to support the launching of regular direct flights between China and Vanuatu on the basis of the initial Civil Air Transport Agreement signed by the two governments in 2019.
Minister Ati said, under the Belt and Road framework, Vanuatu and China have carried out mutually beneficial cooperation in various fields. As a result, a large number of infrastructure projects have been implemented, making great contributions to Vanuatu’s economic and social development and laying solid foundation for further cooperation in areas such as trade and investment.
On June 5, 2021, with the support of the Vanuatu’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Air Vanuatu operated successfully a chattered flight from Port Vila to Sanya city, Hainan Province of China, which marked a historic milestone.
The Vanuatu’s Foreign Affairs Minister who was a main negotiator in realising this dream (initiative) acknowledged that since 1980, there have never been any direct flights from Vanuatu to China as well as any Asian countries. He added that the national airline’s inaugural direct flight to China has proved that Vanuatu is ready to advance its services in the aviation sector.
MP Ati further conveyed his heartfelt gratitude to the Australian Government through the High Commissioner in Vanuatu, Sarah deZoeten for their assistance and efforts in ensuring the direct flight between Vanuatu and China.
The bilateral relations and partnership shared between Vanuatu and other countries has resulted in such an achievement.
The flight fully demonstrated that Air Vanuatu is capable of operating direct flights to China and has opened up a new chapter for Vanuatu-China civil aviation cooperation.
Ambassador Zhou Haicheng thanked the Vanuatu’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Minister Ati himself, in particular, for their strong support to promoting direct flights between China and Vanuatu. He said the launching of direct flights is essential for the two countries to align their development strategies, enhance connectivity and expand investment and trade cooperation. It will also help drive the development of Vanuatu’s tourism service industry. The Chinese Embassy in Vanuatu stands ready to work with the Vanuatu side for the early launching of regular commercial flights between the two countries.
Minister Ati extended his appreciation to officials from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and Chairman of Board of Air Vanuatu for without their great working cooperation, dedication and commitment, the direct flight would not have had eventuated as planned.