Tasman Empire Airways Limited, or TEAL
, was an airline
service that reigned the Tasman Sea
from 1939 to 1965.
TEAL began in earnest as the New Zealand, Australian and United Kingdom governments agreed on the forming of a new airline to travel across the Tasman linking New Zealand and Australia, and later island hopping across the Tasman.
The first aircraft TEAL owned was based in Wellington, New Zealand, a Short S.30 Empire class flying boat, ZK-AMA "Aotearoa".
The inaugural flight of TEALs new service was from Auckland to Sydney, commencing on the 30th of April 1940, landing in Rose Bay some 9 hours and 15 minutes later. The "Aotearoa" carried 10 passengers and some 40,000 letters and was commanded by Captain JW Burgess.
The trans-Tasman flights became so popular that by 1944 TEAL was operating three return flights a week, all by seaplane. TEAL was now operating a second S.30, "Awarua", ZK-AWC.
On the 17th of July 1946 TEAL received its first Tasman-class flying boat, a Short Sandringham, ZK-AMB, which shortened the Auckland-Sydney run to only 8 hours.
In 1950 TEAL took over the "Coral" route from New Zealand National Airways Corporation which was a weekly flying-boat run from Auckland to Fiji. This was the hey-day of flying boats and the Coral route was considered the most 'romantic' of all commercial flights at the time.
The route left Auckland and passed through Fiji, Samoa, Tahiti and the Cook Islands. The flights were run in luxury Short Solent flying boats.
In 1961 the New Zealand government bought out the Australian portion of TEAL, which left TEAL a fully New Zealand owned airline service. This had the effect of allowing TEAL and QANTAS, Australia's national airline, to compete directly for trans-Tasman runs.
By this time TEAL had moved from seaplanes to a variety of land based aircraft, Lockheed L-188 Electra's and Douglas DC-6's.
The jet-age was heralded by TEAL purchasing a Douglas DC-8 in 1965, and later that year, being renamed to Air New Zealand.