The New Zealand Defence Force has begun taking more than 1000 Vanuatu nationals home, with the first group of passengers departing Christchurch on a Royal New Zealand Air Force Boeing 757.
With no commercial flights available, the Government of Vanuatu requested assistance from New Zealand to help get the mostly seasonal workers home.
They are being flown to Port Vila, with eight flights due to depart from either Christchurch or Auckland.
There were two flights on Friday and further flights over the weekend, with others due this week.
All passengers are following Vanuatu Government requirements, including a health check prior to boarding and a 14-day quarantine on arrival in Vanuatu.
Air Component Commander Air Commodore Tim Walshe says the RNZAF is pleased to help get the passengers home.
“It’s a great effort by our team to fly approximately 1000 Vanuatu nationals home after they had been unable to get back due to border and travel restrictions as a result of the global COVID-19 pandemic."
RNZAF crews have also in recent months carried out a series of aid flights to Vanuatu after the Government of Vanuatu had to manage its response to the COVID-19 pandemic as well as relief and recovery efforts following Tropical Cyclone Harold.