During World War II, Vanuatu became an important Allied base, and many roads and airstrips were built by the US forces. In 2002, there were 1,070 km (665 mi) of roads, of which 256 km (159 mi) were paved.
There were 31 small usable airfields serving all the main islands in 2001, of which 3 had paved runways. The chief airports are Bauerfield, on Efate, and Pekoa, on Espiritu Santo; both have been upgraded to handle jet aircraft. Air Vanuatu, the national airline operated by Ansett Airlines of Australia, maintains regular service to Australia; an internal airline, Air Melanesiae, links 22 airfields on various islands. Other external service is provided by Air Pacific, UTA, Polynesian Airlines, Solair, and Air Nauru. Port-Vila and Luganville are the chief seaports. In 2001, 97,500 passengers were carried on scheduled domestic and international flights. Small ships provide frequent interisland service. Vanuatu maintains a policy of open registry for merchant ships, allowing foreign shipowners to avoid the higher costs and regulations of registration under their own flags. As of 2002, there were 54 ships in the Vanuatuan merchant fleet, with a total capacity of 1,092,838 GRT.