Ansett Australia is a grand old airline of the Antipodes, forming for many decades one of the two duopolist airlines in Oz.

(clipped verbatum from Ansett Australia website 23-July-2000)

Ansett International flew the Ansett Australia brand internationally for the first time on 11 September 1993 on a flight to Bali, Indonesia.  

Since then, it has expanded its international operation to cover four destinations: Bali, Hong Kong, Osaka and Fiji. Ansett Australia operates daily services from Sydney to Hong Kong and two flights each week from Sydney to Fiji.  

Together Singapore Airlines, Ansett Australia and Air New Zealand have formed a partnership of global proportions, providing alliance services to 181 destinations in 48 countries.  

Ansett's profile as a player on the world stage has also been enhanced as "The Official Airline of the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games."

Reginald Myles Ansett founded Ansett. The first aircraft was a single engined, six-seater Fokker Universal. Ansett's first flight was on February 17, 1936, from Hamilton to Melbourne.  

Ansett Airways moved its headquarters to Essendon Airport, Melbourne, launched a service to Sydney and purchased three 10 seat Lockheed L10B Electras.  

Ansett assisted in the evacuation of Darwin after it was bombed.  

Ansett expanded its routes, flying to many parts of Australia.  

Ansett began developing holiday resorts in the Whitsundays.  

Ansett opened the Royal Hayman Hotel.  

Ansett introduced the flying boat service in Queensland and introduced the Douglas DC-6 to its growing fleet.  

Ansett introduced its first pressurised aircraft, the Convair 340.  

Ansett bought Australian National Airways (ANA), which was the biggest airline in the country at the time, and changed its name to Ansett-ANA.  

The Ansett fleet grew to 43 aircraft including two helicopters.  

Ansett began Australia's first airport to city helicopter service.  

Ansett began flights from Australia to Papua New Guinea.  

Ansett's first Boeing 727 goes into service.  

Ansett's first Douglas DC-9 goes into service.  

Ansett moved its operation to Tullamarine, Victoria where it built a new base.  

Ansett began replacing the 727-100s with 727-200s.  

Ansett again helped evacuate Darwin, this time after Cyclone Tracy.  

Control of the company passed to The News Corporation Limited and TNT Limited.  

Sir Reginald Ansett died, aged 72.  

Ansett introduced Golden Wing Club.  

Ansett introduced the Boeing 767-200 with 211 seats.  

Ansett introduced the Boeing 737-300 with 110 seats.  

The name of the airline became Ansett Australia several weeks before domestic airline deregulation started on October 31.  

Ansett launched Australia's first domestic Frequent Flyer program.  

Ansett Australia's first international flights commenced on September 11, to Bali.  

Ansett Australia's first Boeing 747 Spaceships began flying to Japan and Hong Kong.  

For the second consecutive year, Ansett Australia won the NTIA airline of the Year and the Australian Federation of Travel Agents Best Airline awards.  

Ansett services to Jakarta started on 12 January. Ansett won the National Travel Industry Awards' Airline of the Year and the Australian Federation of Travel Agents Best Airline Award, for the third year in a row.  

The Olympic Airline Team partnership of Air New Zealand, United Airlines, Lufthansa, Malaysia Airlines, South African Airways and Thai and a co-branded Ansett/Westpac/Visa credit card was announced. Ansett's inaugural service to Shanghai operated on 8 June. Ansett was named Airline of the Year for the 4th year in a row in the new Australian Federation of Travel Agents National Travel Industry Awards.  

Ansett International suspended services to Seoul in February and to Kuala Lumpur and Jakarta in May. Ansett and Air New Zealand became observer-status members of Star Alliance and the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission gave approval for the Ansett group, Air New Zealand and Singapore Airlines alliance.  

Ansett became a full member of the Star Alliance. Ansett International commenced services to Fiji from Sydney and Brisbane. Inflight Research Services named Ansett International best business class in the world.  

Air New Zealand moved to full ownership of Ansett Holdings Limited on 23 June 2000, consolidating a close working relationship established in 1996 and bringing together two great airlines into one great team.

As of today, September 13th 2001, Ansett Australia has been placed into voluntary administration.

In recent days, Ansett has been suffering greatly. Two Civil Aviation and Safety Authority probes in the last 9 months which resulted in several planes being grounded for days at a time, both occurring at the two peak times for holiday travel: Christmas and Easter.

This week, the airline was revealed to have massive operating losses: on the order of $1.3 million dollars per day.
Air New Zealand, the owners of Ansett Australia, approached the New Zealand and Australian governments in the hope of gathering funds for a bailout of the ailing airline. Both governments declined to interfere.
Qantas was approached by the Australian government and asked to consider buying Ansett: special arrangements with the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission had to be made to allow the buyout. The implications of Qantas (who have a 49% share of Australian air traffic) buying out Ansett (who has a 37% share) were enormous. The ACCC had to grant special permission to allow this to go ahead, since it would monopolise Qantas' position in the domestic industry. Permission was granted on the basis that a monopoly was better than the folding of the second largest airline in Australia, and the resulting loss of 16,000 jobs.

Qantas, however, declined. Amongst their reasons were the problem of finding one billion dollars of capital for redundancy packages of 9000 Ansett staff who occupied existing positions within Qantas, and the need to upgrade Ansetts aging fleet.

And at the time of writing this, I've been informed by some news sources that Ansett may ground its planes within the hour. Memos circulated amongst Qantas staff have stated that Ansett tickets are no longer to be honoured, on the grounds that payment is not likely to be forthcoming.

Working for Qantas, I have to say that this is a pretty bleak day for the airline industry within Australia. Contrary to what most people think, the staff within Qantas are far from happy that their major competitor may no longer exist. The huge uncertainty that recent events have generated within the airline industry and the world in general have made people wary of massive change like this. The terrorist attacks in the US, as well as being horrific, savage events, will have badly hurt both American Airlines and United Airlines. Neither company could easily afford the loss of two jets, and the psychological impact of those particular losses is immense.

And now, it looks like Ansett will most likely go under. It might survive, perhaps in a limited form. It might even rebound: they may find some backing which will lift it back up to its earlier status. I hope so. The rivalry between Qantas and Ansett may have been long-lasting, but none would call it bitter. Not in a land that supports the underdog, something which Ansett has definately become now.

Update: 15/09/01

It's offical. Ansett is dead. Their planes were grounded early Friday morning, and the terminals locked. Staff and passengers alike were not informed, and the airports were chaotic with stranded travellers and aircrew trying to get home. I manage the Qantas webservers, and yesterday was more than three times the highest load we've ever seen.

Update: 18/10/01

Ansett Mk2 has been flying now for a few weeks: a cut back version of the original Ansett, offering cheap fares and no-frills service. They are by no means restored to their former glory, and are only staying afloat through Government financing. With the Australian Federal election coming up next month, it will be very interesting to see if Ansett survive past that point in any form. The Government backing is due to run out the week of the elections.

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