Saturday, June 1, 2013

CQ Plane Spotting Historic Spot - East West Airlines - Australia's Original 'Third' Airline

After our Historic look at the British Aerospace BAe 146 in service in Central Queensland, I had a couple of emails about East-West Airlines.  After a little research, this month's Historic Spot takes a look at Australia's original 'third' airline.

East-West Airlines was founded in Tamworth, New South Wales, in 1947 with the aim to "fight the city based airline monopolies".

Over several decades, East-West operated Lockheed Hudson and Douglas DC-3 aircraft, and eventually grew from an intrastate operator to Australia's third largest domestic carrier which, by 1982, owned and operated ten Fokker F-27 Friendship turbo-prop aircraft. By that time, East-west was also about to acquire its first jet aircraft - a Fokker F28 Fellowship.

East-West, already in an era still governed by the Two Airlines Policy, became the first "third" carrier operating between Sydney and Canberra.

In the following years, East-West competed vigorously with the ‘major’ airlines Ansett and Australian Airlines on inter-capital routes. The Australian aviation industry was highly regulated at the time under the Two Airlines Policy, which prevented East-West from flying directly between major capital cities, so they instead offered services between major cities via regional centres, including Central Queensland.

Routes included (amongst others) Sydney to Brisbane via Newcastle and Coolangatta, or Brisbane to Cairns via Mackay.

East-West primarily flew Fokker F-27 turboprop and F-28 jet aircraft but would eventually operate the larger BAe 146-300 and Boeing 737-300 aircraft for passenger operations.  They also flew Boeing 727-200s on some passenger and cargo flights.

In December 1983 East-West was sold to Perth-based Skywest Holdings Pty Ltd, a subsidiary of Griffin Holdings, which also owned Skywest Airlines.  Skywest Holdings belonged to a Western Australian coal mining entrepreneur.  Under the new ownership East-West was retained as an independent entity. Skywest Holdings announced in May 1985 to fully merge both Skywest Airlines and East-West, but this was not carried out bar some harmonisation of timetables.

Mid July 1987 East-West and Skywest were sold and then on sold to a company set up by Ansett's owners.  East-West continued to operate as a separate entity until 1993 when its operations were fully merged into Ansett.  On 1 January 1994, East-West Airlines formally ceased to exist.

My sincere thanks to Danny for allowing me access some fantastic old photos of these East-West aircraft shown above!

No comments:

Post a Comment