Cruise ship rescues tourists left stranded by airline filing bankruptcy


Nothing is worse than being in a country with only one airline and then discovering that it has filed for bankruptcy. That is precisely what happened when a small South Pacific nation’s signature carrier Air Vanuatu announced that it was canceling all flights and filing for bankruptcy protection after failing to meet the “extended maintenance requirements" required for the four planes currently in its fleet. While liquidators have been working with the Vanuatu government to ensure the nation of 326,000 people is not left without an airline, tourists with canceled flights faced a mad scramble to get on the few routes from the remote island nation offered by other airlines.Related: Another airline strands passengers as it files bankruptcyThe airline filed for bankruptcy on May 10 but, on May 18, 16 Australian student volunteers and several organizers were scheduled to be on an Air Vanuatu flight from the island of Tannu to the capital of Port Vila from which they were supposed to catch a flight back home. They were part of a group organized by the Hive Rotary Club Australia sent to do teaching work in the remote community. ‘It was $7,000 to get us all 20 off the island’Suddenly left without a way to get out of Tannu, the students turned to Australian social media to share their story and ask for help. Their posts were quickly spotted by P&O Cruises Australia, which had a ship circling the area at the time, and the students were picked up aboard in Port Vila (they were able to charter a flight from Tannu.)More on retail and bankruptcy:Walmart store closing, auctioning off laptops and flat screen TVsHome Depot CEO sounds the alarm on a growing problemFamous restaurant files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy“The only way off Tanna Island is via a plane or a ferry once a week,” Hive Rotary Club President Kellie Kadoui described to 9 News Australia. “So, it was very stressful for a lot of days, working out how we were going to get home. A chartered flight was an option but it was $7,000 to get us all 20 off the island.”Related: Spirit Airlines soars despite bankruptcy risk, JetBlue merger decisionStudents see a happy end but the airline is in serious troubleThe cruise ship company took the students aboard the flight with free room and board. The Discovery Paradise ship was on a 10-day “Discover Vanuatu” tour that was also supposed to stop in New Caledonia but ended up rerouting after the French territory saw a wave of violent riots when Parisian lawmakers made unpopular electoral changes that would allow mainland France residents to vote on issues affecting the archipelago; the students joined the ship for one more stop on Vanuatu’s Mystery Island before it docked back home in Sydney. As the last of the stranded tourists get rescued, Vanuatu’s government is working with liquidators to save the debt-ridden airline. The existing executive and management teams will remain in place."Air Vanuatu is critical to the people of the Republic of Vanuatu and a strategically important business to the nation," Morgan Kelly, an Ernst & Young partner and one of the liquidators assigned to the bankruptcy, said in a statement on the news. “The outlook for the airline is positive, despite pressures on the broader industry, and we will be focused on securing the future of this strategically vital national carrier."Related: Veteran fund manager picks favorite stocks for 2024

Economy, Transport, Transportation, Technology, Flying, Travel, Airlines