Bauerfield International Airport
|Bauerfield International Airport
Port Vila International Airport
|IATA: VLI – ICAO: NVVV|
|Operator||Airports Vanuatu Limited|
|Serves||Port Vila, Vanuatu|
|Hub for||Air Vanuatu|
|Elevation AMSL||68 ft / 21 m|
Bauerfield International Airport (IATA: VLI, ICAO: NVVV) is an airport located in Port Vila, Vanuatu. The airport is relatively small in size, but its runway has the capability and length to accept jets up to the Airbus A330. It serves as the hub for Vanuatu's flag carrier airline, Air Vanuatu.
World War II
With Japanese forces establishing bases on Guadalcanal which threatened the sea route between the U.S. and Australia, Admiral King distributed the joint basic plan for the occupation and defense of Efate on 20 March 1942. Under its terms the US Army was to defend Efate and support the defense of ships and positions. The US Navy's task was: (1) to construct, administer and operate a naval advance base, seaplane base, and harbor facilities; (2) to support Army forces in the defense of the island; (3) to construct an airfield and at least two outlying dispersal fields; (4) to provide facilities for the operation of seaplane-bombers.
On 25 March 1942, the Army sent about 500 men to Efate from Nouméa, and the 4th Defense Battalion, 45th Marines, arrived on 8 April. Elements of the 1st Naval Construction Battalion arrived on Efate on 4 May 1942. The Marines had already cleared a coral 2,000 feet (610 m) by 200 feet (61 m) runway near Port Vila on part of a plantation owned by Henri Russet and the Seabees expanded this to 6,000 feet (1,800 m) by 350 feet (110 m).
The airfield was originally named Efate Field, Vila Field or McDonald Field but was later officially named Bauer Field after Lt-Col. Harold W. Bauer, a fighter pilot in the US Marine Corps who was lost at sea on 14 November 1942 after being shot down during the Battle of Guadalcanal.
USAAF units stationed at Efate Field included:
- 12th Fighter Squadron 1942-3
- 44th Fighter Squadron 7 November 1942 – 25 October 1943
- 26th Bombardment Squadron 25 July-22 December 1942
The base was disestablished and abandoned in February 1946.
Airlines and destinations
|Air New Zealand||Auckland (suspended)||International|
|Air Niugini||Port Moresby||International|
|Air Vanuatu||Dillon's Bay, Emae, Ipota, Lamap, Lamen Bay, Lonorore, Luganville, Norsup, Paama, South West Bay, Tanna, Tongoa, Ulei, Valesdir||Domestic|
|Air Vanuatu||Auckland, Brisbane, Honiara, Nadi, Nouméa, Suva, Sydney||International|
|Fiji Airways||Honiara, Nadi, Suva||International|
|Solomon Airlines||Honiara, Nadi||International|
On Friday 22 January 2016 Air New Zealand suspended all flights and codeshare agreements to Port Villa because of safety concerns over the condition of the runway.
Australian carrier Qantas has also decided to suspend codeshare services with Air Vanuatu from Australia to Port Villa. Virgin Australia sent safety experts to inspect the runway and decided to continue flying.
On Wednesday 27 January 2016 Virgin Australia decided to suspend all flight with the last return journey on the 30th January 2016 for returning passengers only.
- Building the Navy's Bases in World War II History of the Bureau of Yards and Docks and the Civil Engineer Corps 1940-1946. US Government Printing Office. 1947. p. 202.
- Bases, p.204-5
- Bases, p.206
- "Air NZ suspends Vanuatu flights". Yahoo.com. Retrieved 22 January 2016.
- "Air New Zealand Suspends Vanuatu Service from late-Jan 2016". airlineroute. Retrieved 22 January 2016.
- Freed, Jamie. "Virgin Australia halts Vanuatu flights over runway safety concerns". Sydney Morning Herald. SMH. Retrieved 28 January 2016.
Media related to Bauerfield International Airport at Wikimedia Commons