Butler Air Transport

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Butler Air Transport was a limited liability company created by Cecil Arthur Butler to operate air transport primarily among New South Wales airports in Australia, from 1934 until 1959.[1][2]


Arthur Butler, OBE (1902-1980)[1] was an English-Australian aviator whose first aviation experience was as a toolmaker and later ground engineer in Sydney then Hay, New South Wales. Butler was engineer to pilot Francis Stewart Briggs who taught Butler to fly at Hay.[3] After getting a pilot's license, he became a barnstormer before in 1934 winning the contract for the Charleville, Queensland to Cootamundra, New South Wales leg of the England-Australia airmail route. The Butler Air Transport Co lost the contract on its expiry in 1938, but went on to operate as a civil airline, serving country towns in New South Wales and Queensland.

During World War II, Butler continued operating on a limited scale, and also manufactured parts for the Australian war effort on a cost-recovery basis.[1] At the end of the war, Butler registered Butler Air Transport Pty Ltd as a public company, that became the most successful airline in New South Wales, operating three Douglas DC-3s, Avro Ansons, De Havilland Herons and three Airspeed Ambassadors.[1]

Vickers Viscount 747 of Butler Air Transport at Blackbushe Airport in 1956 shortly before delivery to Australia

Butler encouraged employee ownership of the company, and in 1947, they owned 51 per cent.[1][4]

In the 1950s, the Government of Australia sought to nationalise the airlines, and adopted a "two airline policy" favouring Ansett Airways and Trans-Australia Airlines. Arthur Butler fought against the trend, including an intended buy-out in the early 1950s by Australian National Airways. In 1955 Butler acquired two Vickers Viscounts. Reginald Ansett's Ansett Transport Industries acquired A.N.A. in 1957, thus acquiring appreciable stock in B.A.T., then acquired more from staff stockholders until he controlled the Butler airline. Despite a legal and boardroom battle to retain or regain control, Arthur Butler lost. In late 1958, Butler was offered the position of Managing Director but instead left the company,[1] which was effectively absorbed into Ansett as Airlines of New South Wales in 1959,[5] then into Ansett Express.[2][4]

Arthur Butler was made an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in 1958, for services to aviation.


Butler Air Transport operated to the following airports:

Butler Air Transport - Destinations
From To Commenced Times Aircraft Fares (1 way) Reference
Sydney Bathurst 16/12/1946 1100 Douglas 21 seat ₤1/10/0 [6]
Sydney Bega [7]
Sydney Bourke [7]
Sydney Brewarrina [7]
Sydney Casino [7]
Sydney Charleville [7]
Sydney Coffs Harbour [7]
Sydney Coonamble [7]
Sydney Cunnamulla [7]
Sydney Dubbo [7]
Sydney Evans Head (Lismore) [7]
Sydney Grafton [7]
Sydney Nyngan [7]
Sydney Parkes [7]
Sydney Tooraweenah (Gilgandra & Coonabarabran)

Local knowledge said that Tooraweenah was the home town of Butler's wife. He made it the hub for the surrounding airports, in a "Hub and Spoke" operation. Early on, a Dragon Rapide and two de Havilland Heron Mk Is (VH-AHB and VH-ARB) took passengers from, e.g. Coonamble to Tooraweenah, where they transferred to a DC-3 for the rest of the journey to Sydney. The Herons also operated other routes, e.g Sydney - Forster.

Sydney Walgett [7]


  1. ^ a b c d e f Butler, Cecil Arthur (1902 - 1980), Australian Dictionary of Biography, accessed 4 July 2011
  2. ^ a b Butler Air Transport Co (1934 - 1959), Guide to Australian Business Records, accessed 4 July 2011
  3. ^ Butler, Cecil Arthur, "Journey log books, Arthur Butler, 1926-28, 1931-32", Powerhouse Museum. Retrieved 2014-06-17.
  4. ^ a b Butler Air Transport to Airlines of N.S.W. to Ansett Express - Flight Crew List, aussieairliners.org, accessed 4 July 2011
  5. ^ Ansett - A Brief History Archived 28 September 2011 at the Wayback Machine, spiritsofansett.com, accessed 4 July 2011
  6. ^ "Air Service for Bathurst soon". Sydney Morning Herald. Trove Australia. 3 September 1946. Retrieved 15 August 2011.
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o "Advertisement". Sydney Morning Herald. Trove Australia. 10 April 1948.

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