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AVL announces 65 staff redundancies and acknowledges the support of the Government of Vanuatu in providing loan funding

January 19, 2021 Airport No Comments Email Email

Airports Vanuatu Ltd (AVL) wishes to update our stakeholders as to our business plan for 2021 and a reduction in our workforce, which will result in a number of positions being made redundant, impacting our staff.

AVL’s 2021 business plan included a workforce reduction, resulting in redundancies

AVL commenced the new financial year in October with key initiatives to support the business in sustaining minimum operations in these times of reduced flying and therefore reduced aeronautical revenue. One project was to review the workforce requirements and engage with staff in an open and transparent manner. That project is now complete and has unfortunately resulted in a number of redundancies.

Jason Rakau, CEO of AVL commented, “We have not taken the decision to downsize the workforce lightly. First and foremost, I myself am an employee of AVL and think of our team as my family. It has been difficult for AVL as a business to identify the roles which are essential to maintain basic operations through the coming months of reduced flying, and as a consequence, identify the roles which are not required in the immediate short term. Those positions will be made redundant and the staff impacted have been informed. Each employee will have a personal exit interview with me in the next two weeks as the process is completed. We give our thanks and ongoing commitment to those staff and will support them with guidance in seeking new positions and access to financial advice in investing their redundancy funds”.

Sadly, 65 staff will leave the organisation, representing a 30% reduction in the workforce. Through an extensive consultation process, staff were offered the option to take unpaid leave or volunteer for redundancy, resulting in a quarter of the redundancies being voluntary. All staff employment entitlements will be settled in accordance with the Employment Act.

The business plan review resulted in 162 roles being identified as critical to AVL’s commitment to continuing to drive the organization forward, with a focus on maintaining safe, secure and compliant operation of our airport operations and infrastructure.

Government of Vanuatu shareholders and other key individuals made a valuable contribution to the workforce review

AVL Chairman, Iaken Kiero, commented, “I wish to thank the Government of Vanuatu and specifically the Government’s shareholding ministers, Johnny Koanapo, Minister for Finance and Economic Development and Jay Ngwele, the Minister for Infrastructure and Public Utilities, for their support and commitment. As a state-owned enterprise, AVL’s shareholder is the Government and they have worked together proactively with all those involved in this process, to provide an ethical and equitable solution for those staff who sadly are leaving AVL. Others who have brought their skills and resources to this process are the Director of Civil Aviation, the Commissioner of Labour and my fellow AVL Board members. AVL’s CEO, Jason Rakau, has taken a strong leadership position in this process and with the support of his Executive Management Team has remained focused on putting the AVL staff themselves at the centre of all our thinking. He has acted with the upmost integrity and consideration for the feelings of his staff, and is to be admired for his engagement with the staff, keeping them informed and offering them options of paid leave or voluntary redundancy”.

The Government of Vanuatu provides a loan to AVL

AVL will today receive a cheque from the Government of Vanuatu for VT250m, representing a loan to support AVL through the current period of reduced revenue. The cheque will be handed over by Johnny Koanapo, Minister for Finance and Economic Development today at a short ceremony, and received by AVL’s Chairman, Board, CEO and CFO. The loan funds will support:

  • Settlement of staff employment entitlements in accordance with the Employment Act, for those being made redundant;
  • Costs associated with maintaining safe and compliant minimum operations; and
  • Investments in special projects identified to increase non-aeronautical revenue streams.

Johnny Koanapo, Minister for Finance and Economic Development commented, “On behalf of the Government of Vanuatu, as a shareholding minister, I wish to pass on my thanks to all AVL employees who have worked tirelessly since the borders closed and flying significantly reduced, to ensure a significant national asset, our airports, are maintained in a safe, secure and compliant manner. Air access is critical to our island nation and for us to maintain domestic connectivity. But let us remember that first and foremost our AVL staff who will be made redundant are people, human beings, entitled to respect and thanks for their commitment to their roles. Over the coming weeks they will embark on the next phase of their lives, finding new opportunities, perhaps setting up their own businesses and we wish them and their families all of God’s blessings in their future endeavours”.

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