Today in History

Today in 2001: The announcement is made of the closure of Ansett Airlines

Australia’s national airline is Qantas. However, for nearly seven decades, there was a second major airline in Australia: Ansett Airlines.

Ansett Airways Pty Ltd was founded by Sir Reginald Myles “Reg” Ansett in 1935. The very first flight, a single engine Fokker Universal, departed Hamilton, Victoria bound for Melbourne, on 17 February 1936. In 1957, Ansett Airways became Ansett-ANA after taking over the private airline Australian National Airways (ANA), which had gone bankrupt. Further acquisitions of domestic airlines occurred in ensuing decades, and Ansett continued to operate very profitably, well into the latter years of the twentieth century.

In 1987, Ansett made its first international flights, expanding into New Zealand through its subsidiary Ansett New Zealand. Although Air New Zealand had previously become a 50% shareholder, it acquired full ownership of Ansett in February 2000. Unfortunately, the competition with QANTAS and other airlines, an ageing fleet and the constant grounding of aircraft for maintenance, together with a series of poor financial decisions meant that Ansett became more of a liability than an asset to Air New Zealand. The decision was made to place the airline into administration.

On 14 September 2001, the announcement was made that Air New Zealand had placed the Ansett group of companies into voluntary administration. Despite an attempt by the federal government to prop up Ansett via government guarantee, the last commercial flight, AN152 from Perth to Sydney, touched down just after 6am on 5 March 2002.

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