Airports Vanuatu security lets tourist board flight with live artillery shell

An astonishing story just to hand: a Kiwi tourist managed to get through Port Vila airport security with a live World War 2 artillery shell in his luggage.

The military explosive was not detected by Airports Vanuatu Limited (AVL)’s security screening and metal detector when the tourist left Port Vila on an Air Vanuatu flight to Auckland on 13 October.

The ammunition was only discovered when the tourist declared the live round to NZ Customs on arrival in Auckland.

A story on news website says that there were 162 passengers on the Air Vanuatu flight, and that the tourist found the shell while diving.

“If it had gone off, well you only have to blow a little hole in a plane for there to be potentially serious damage”, said a passenger on the flight.

NZ Police “described the man’s actions as an ‘interesting case of stupidity’, but said they would not charge him”, says the story.

AVL Bauerfield operations general manager Kevin Dick Abel is quoted as saying “the staff member who let the shell through could be suspended under airport security rules.”


6 Comments on “Airports Vanuatu security lets tourist board flight with live artillery shell”

  1. b.j. Skane says:

    Equally amazing as the shell getting through International baggage check undetected is that the idiot picked it up in the first place. He then carried it to shore, to his hotel (we’re not told whether on Efate or Santo) but If it was Santo then to Pekoa airport, onto a domestic flight back to Vila, probably to another hotel and then another bus or taxi to Bauerfield. Far out. It could have exploded at any time anywhere during that journey! And he gets away with this scot-free? Would’ve been a different story in NZ if his name had a Middle East ring to it.


    • Hopefully this won’t be swept under the carpet by Airports Vanuatu. The public needs to be assured that this systemic failure is addressed. And it is a total outrage that the moron tourist receives no more than a slap on the wrist from the NZ authorities. This fool endangered the lives of at least 162 people, and the NZ Govt should be making an example of him by prosecuting him to the full extent that the law allows.


  2. Tahar says:

    That’s Vanuatu off my list of holiday destinations!


  3. Ronan Harvey says:

    I live in Santo where I have a plantation.

    My background is aviation, engineering, airports, operations etc.

    I have just read the item concerning the carriage on an Air Vanuatu International flight of a WW2 artillery shell.

    Firstly these items are highly unstable and very likely to detonate / combust under certain circumstances.

    It is incredible that this item made it through Port VIla Airport security and must call into question the operational management of the airport. In any other country it would require the immediate resignation of the AV Chief Executive.

    AV requires, and this event demands, a root and branch overhaul to ensure that standards of safety and security meet international standards. Operational failings are endemic in this organisation as was demonstrated by the effective closure of Pekoa Airport earlier is year.

    Such shortcomings in security place the Nation of Vanuatu in an extremely exposed position. As a consequence of such fundamental lapses in security if is entirely foreseeable that Vanuatu could lose its right to conduct international flights. This would signal an effective end to tourism and commerce for some time.

    What is overwhelmingly clear from this incident is that no one, including the NZ authorities, give a damn about Aviation Safety and Security. The individual who transported the shell on an international flight is guilty of a raft of serious crimes and should be charged accordingly.

    Effective and competent operational management of the essential infrastructure in Vanuatu is a pressing issue that needs Government intervention now.


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  5. Bob Makin says:

    Wow, well done.