What Do You Know About Australia's Ansett Airlines - A Brief History

Author: Australis Gifts   Date Posted:17 January 2020 

What Do You Know About Australia's Ansett Airlines - A Brief History main image What Do You Know About Australia's Ansett Airlines - A Brief History image
What happened to Australia's second largest airline in 2001?


The Beginning
Ansett Airways Ltd was registered by Reginald Ansett in 1936 and was based in Melbourne, Victoria. Ansett Airways first flew from Melbourne to Hamilton in Victoria and shortly expanded passenger services to Sydney, Broken Hill and Adelaide in 1937. These passenger services ceased during World War II (1940-1945). After the war Ansett Airways resumed domestic passenger services and the airline changed it's name to Ansett Transport Industries (ATI) in 1946. In 1957 with Federal Government assistance Ansett Transport Industries purchased Australian National Airways (ANA) - one of the two largest domestic airlines in Australia the other being Trans-Australia Airways (TAA), and a new airline was formed Ansett-ANA. Ansett-ANA had a fleet of 43 aircraft including two helicopters. Ansett-ANAs early success was partly due to the Australian Government's Two Airline Policy providing some protection from competition to both Ansett-ANA and the Government-owned TAA. In October 1964 Ansett-ANA introduced a passenger jet aircraft service on Boeing 727-100 aircraft.

The Middle
In 1979 control of Ansett passed to TNT Limited and Murdoch's News Corporation with Sir Peter Abeles of TNT Limited becoming Chairman of Ansett. In 1983 Boeing 767-200 services commenced and Boeing 737-300 aircraft were introduced to the fleet in 1986. Ansett expanded into New Zealand in 1987 with the creation of Ansett New Zealand initially flying three B737-100 aircraft between Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch. Back in Australia, Airbus A320-200 aircraft were introduced in 1988 and in 1990 the airline changed it's name to Ansett Australia just weeks before the end of the Australian Government's Two Airline Policy and deregulation of Australia's airline industry. Ansett Australia flew it's first international service to Bali in September 1993. Shortly thereafter, international services to Osaka (Japan) and Hong Kong commenced in 1994 flying B747-300 aircraft. The three Ansett Boeing 747-300 aircraft were replaced in 1999 with two B747-400 aircraft.

Rival airline in New Zealand - Air New Zealand, purchased TNT's 50% share of Ansett Australia in October 1996 to create an Australia-New Zealand alliance, and after outbidding Singapore Airlines purchased the remaining 50% share from News Corporation in June 2000. Due to New Zealand anti-monopoly laws Ansett Australia sold Ansett New Zealand to News Corporation and in 2000 Ansett New Zealand was sold by News Corporation to New Zealand company Tasman Pacific Airlines. Ansett Australia had an array of aircraft including Fokker F27, A320, B737, B767 and B747 in it's aging fleet resulting in increased operating costs, as well as Ansett's B767s originally having a unique three person flight crew in the cockpit. Maintenance issues resulted in the grounding of Ansett's B767 aircraft during Christmas 2000 and again the following Easter holidays. Ansett had tough competition from Qantas after the Qantas merger with the domestic Australian Airlines (formerlyTAA). Also on the horizon was a new cut price competitor Virgin Blue (later to become Virgin Australia).

And The End
Air New Zealand was facing it's own financial difficulties and in September 2001 the New Zealand Government came to it's aid by buying 83% of Air New Zealand for NZ$885 million. Unfortunately it was too late to save Air New Zealand subsidiary Ansett Australia, and on 12th September 2001 Air New Zealand placed Ansett Australia into Voluntary Administration. On the 14th September 2001 the Administrator ceased all Ansett Group flights including those of Ansett Australia, Ansett International, Hazelton Airlines, and Kendell Airlines. The Administrator estimated debt of Ansett could be as high as A$2 billion.

Limited Ansett flights resumed in October 2001 under the guise of Ansett Mark II flying five of the airline's A320 aircraft on major domestic routes whilst a search for a purchaser of the business was undertaken. In November 2001 a potential sale of Ansett's mainline business to a Solomon Lew - Lindsay Fox consortium (Tesna Holdings Ltd) was announced however in February 2002 the sale process couldn't be completed and after 66 years Ansett ceased flying operations in March 2002.

If you have any comments, we'd love to hear from you. And whilst you are here have a look at the Air New Zealand and other model aircraft we have for sale.



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