Extensions to Calcutta, Rangoon and Singapore

After the introduction of Imperial Airways London - Karachi airmail in 1929, the Eastern Route was gradually extended, first to Delhi in December 1929 and then to Calcutta, Rangoon and Singapore (1933) and Australia (1934) together with a feeder service to Hong Kong (1936).

The extension to New Zealand did not occur until 1940 by which time Imperial Airways had been replaced by BOAC.

Extension to Calcutta, July 1933


From 1 July 1933, the Imperial Airways London - Karachi - Delhi airmail service was extended to Calcutta via Cawnpore and Allahabad.

The cover was carried on the first airmail between Karachi and Calcutta. The special rectangular postmark shows Karachi-Calcutta 7 Jly First Airmail. The mail arrived in Calcutta on 8 July [1] and this cover was backstamped in Calcutta on 9 July.


The return flight left Calcutta on 11 July and arrived in London on 17 July.

The route from Karachi to Calcutta was operated by Imperial Airways in conjunction with Indian Trans-Continental Airways (ITCA) [3]. From January 1932 until this flight, the Karachi - Delhi leg had been operated by the Delhi Flying Club.

Extension to Rangoon, September 1933


From September 1933 the service was extended from Calcutta to Rangoon via Akyab.


The cover is postmarked 22 September. Flight IE 235 left London on 23 September and arrived in Rangoon on 1 October where it was backstamped.

The franking is 8d which was the combined ordinary and air mail fee to India and Burma for the first ½oz [4].

Rangoon return

The next cover was flown on the return flight IW 235 as far as Cairo. It is postmarked 1 October and the flight left Rangoon on 2 October and arrived in Cairo on 6 October. The service arrived in London on 10 Oct.

There is a commemorative dumbell cachet on the back which includes the date of 2 October.

Cairo backstamp

There are two arrival backstamps. One is Caire (i.e. Cairo) on 6 October and the other is Heliopolis on 7 October.

Extension to Singapore, December 1933


In December 1933 the service was extended from Rangoon to Singapore via Bangkok, Bandon (Siam) and Alor Star. The flight (IE 246) left London on 9 December and arrived in Singapore on December 19 [1].

The cover was carried on the first flight (IW 248) from Singapore which left (one day late) on 1 January [1] and arrived in London on 10 January 1934.

It has franking of 43c made up of 8c ordinary mail plus 35c airmail fee. From April 1934, the airmail charge from Singapore to the UK was reduced to an inclusive fee of 40c and at the end of November 1934, it was further reduced to 25c.

These extensions were not used for mails from the UK to New Zealand.

back next
back next

All scans were made by the author.
[1] Aircraft Movements on Imperial Airways' Eastern Route, Vol 1, 1927 - 1937, Peter Wingent, Winchester 1999.
[2] Imperial Airways (and Subsidiary Companies), N.C.Baldwin, The Aero Field Handbook Number 10, 1950.
[3] British External Airmails until 1934 (2nd Edition), A S Newall, 1996.
[4] The Postal History of British Airmails, E B Proud, 1991.