Charter flight failure disrupts egg production

A large egg supplier in Vanuatu is starting to see a decline in its egg production.

Kenneth Thode, the owner of the Chiko Farm in Port Vila, says his company spent a huge amount of money on a government charter flight to and from New Zealand in May to get chicks and fertile eggs, but the deliveries did not happen as expected.

He says he has paid for costly goods that have not been delivered and a huge building that he built for the imported chicks that cost around VT15 million is now completely empty.

“With COVID-19 restrictions disrupting supplies, we managed to arrange a charter flight with Air Vanuatu to go to New Zealand and pick up young chicks and fertile eggs, but they have not been delivered as arranged so we don’t have any chicks to rear at the moment,” Mr Thode told VBTC.

Mr Thode says he has been given no explanation of why the chicks for his company, and others, ordered by the Vanuatu Livestock Department, did not arrive on the Air Vanuatu charter flight.

“Until today Air Vanuatu has not given any reason why the chicks weren’t able to be loaded onboard the aircraft and this is an issue. Now that my building is empty, egg production is going down,” he said.

The Director of the Department of Livestock, Lonny Bong, says the department of Livestock has also been badly affected because its chick supply on the same charter flight from New Zealand did not arrive.

Director Bong says Air Vanuatu has informed the department that there was not enough space on the aircraft to load all the chicks onto the special flight from New Zealand.

He is questioning who will refund the money the department and Chiko Farm have spent on the purchase of the chicks and fertilised eggs.

“It is very unfortunate that the Department of Livestock and Chiko Farm have lost a huge amount of money on the importation of these chicks from New Zealand,” Director Bong said.

He says the Livestock Department has paid for more than 2500 chicks that should have come in and Chiko Farm has paid for 8000 chicks.

However, Air Vanuatu’s Marketing and Communications Manager, Paul Pio, claims a misunderstanding led to confusion about how Air Vanuatu operates and the amount of space that was available to take onboard the chicks and eggs.

He says this is why some of the supplies of chicks did not come in.

Mr Pio says Air Vanuatu made all instructions clear to the Vanuatu buyers but the buyers did not follow the instructions.

He says an offload of chicks they did in Auckland followed instructions from the New Zealand poultry farmers involved.

“On the day of operation, we received more supplies than what the aircraft could take onboard,” Mr Pio said.

Livestock Department Director Bong says New Zealand poultry farmers involved in the bungled delivery, say they will not refund the monies paid by Chiko Farm and the Livestock Department.

The poultry farmers say further payments must now be made if the Vanuatu buyers want to complete the delivery.

Air Vanuatu says it is ready to assist with flights but clients must respect the airline’s protocols.

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