Vanuatu : 50th Anniversary of ICAO


Issue date: 07/12/1994



Consolidated PB2B‑2 Catalina of Qantas (1950).

Following World War II, when aircraft designed specifically for civilian carriage were few and far between many ex-military models were pressed into such service, Qantas operated the ex‑RAAF PB2B‑2 amphibious Catalina (PBY-5 series built by Boeing Canada) from October 1948 to May 1950 on the Sidney‑Noumea‑Port Vila‑Santo‑Noumea‑Sydney route. The aircraft carried 14 passengers and 4 crewmembers, and operated off the water in Port Vila and Santo. Its cruising speed was 105 mph.

The original designation of the aircraft was simply PBY ("PB" for Patrol Boat, "Y" is the name of the company Consolidated, its manufacturer). It was nicknamed Catalina by the British, in reference to Santa Catalina Island in California.




Douglas DC-3 of Transport Aérien Intercontinental, TAI (1956) at Bauerfield International Airport, Port Vila.

In 1956, Transport Aérien Intercontinental (TAI), in a joint operation with Air France, introduced the Douglas DC-3 and DC-4 aircraft to Vanuatu. This service operated for two years, principally between Santo, Port Villa (Bauerfield Airport) and Noumea from where connections to the world aviation network were readily available.


de Havilland Australia DHA-3 Drover of New Hebrides Airways (1966).

In 1966, New Hebrides Airways was established and initially used the three‑engine de Havilland DHA-3 Drover on routes within Vanuatu. This Australian designed aircraft, shown over the island of Erromango, was purchased from Trans Australian Airways (TAA). It had previously been in use by the famous Flying Doctor service in Queensland.


Boeing 737-400 of Air Vanuatu Ltd. (1994) on the tarmac at Bauerfield International Airport, Port Vila.

Also shown is the de Havilland Canada DHC-6 Twin Otter of the domestic operator, Vanair.

Air Vanuatu (Operation) Ltd. was established in 1989; this airline, an offspring of New Hebrides Airways, used a Bandeirante aircraft between Port Vila and Noumea, and a Boeing 737-400 to New Zealand and the east coast of Australia. The Boeing 737 is shown on the tarmac at Bauerfield International Airport, Port Vila. Also shown is the de Havilland Canada DHC-6 Twin Otter of the domestic operator, Vanair; this aircraft was the principal aircraft used between the 30 airfields scattered throughout the many islands of Vanuatu.


Cancelled to Order (CTO).




Lower-left blocks of 4 stamps.




First Day Cover showing flags of Vanuatu and ICAO.

In 1993, a Civil Air Ensign design competition aimed at school children was floated. The requirements were that the Ensign should reflect an aviation background, the national colours and a definitive Vanuatu character. The competition attracted 102 entries, some quite outstanding, and the Civil Air Ensign was developed from the winning entry from Mr. James Alvine of Malapoa College (the premier secondary academic institution in Vanuatu). The design is proudly featured on the First Day Cover of this aviation issue. The yellow tusk surrounding the black silhouette of an aircraft flying out of a runway of national colours is a refreshingly simple representation of the design requirements.

Two errors can be noticed on this cover:

1. The French name of the Organization should be written: Organisation de l’aviation civile internationale.

2. The word Organization in the English version must be spelled with 's', instead of 'z'.


Background: This issue shows various types of aircraft used in scheduled international flights to and from Vanuatu since the signing of the Convention on International Civil Aviation in Chicago in 1944. From those early Qantas Catalinas cruising at 150 mph to those days’ airliners that flew at over 500mph, there had been tremendous growth in the volumes and services of air transport available to and from Vanuatu.


For all the stamps of this issue, the Organization’s name is printed with s instead of z. The correct name is: International Civil Aviation Organization.


Depicted on the above first day cover, the flag of Vanuatu (adopted on 18 February 1990) is divided into three sections. There is a red horizontal stripe over top of a green one; on the left side of the flag, there is a yellow Y that runs through the middle of the flag. The Y is outlined in black with a black triangle filling in the Y. Inside the triangle there is an emblem of a boar's tusk with two fern leaves inside it; the leaves are supposed to be a token of peace. The boar's tusk is a traditional Vanuatu symbol of prosperity and is worn as a pendant by islanders. The black represents the Melanesian people that make up the majority of Vanuatu's population. Red represents the country's unity through blood. Green represents the land and its agriculture; yellow symbolizes the sun that shines over the whole country. If looking at Vanuatu on a map, the islands that make up the nation form a Y-shape; this is represented by the Y on the flag.


More details on the ICAO flag shown on the first day cover can be obtained at the following link: The ICAO flag.