Don Kendell

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Don Kendell
Born Donald Moreton Kendell
(1930-01-19)19 January 1930
Geelong, Victoria[1]
Died 14 October 2001(2001-10-14) (aged 71)
Wagga Wagga, New South Wales[2]
Known for Founder of Kendell Airlines

Donald Moreton "Don" Kendell AM (19 January 1930 – 14 October 2001) was the founder and Chairman of Kendell Airlines, now a part of Regional Express Airlines. His love of flying led to the creation of Kendell Airlines and its continuing success.

Personal life[edit]

As a small boy on his parents' wheat and sheep property in south western New South Wales, aviation held a fascination for Don. He recalled that as a seven-year-old he ran barefoot for nearly a mile through paddocks full of Saffron Thistle just to watch a biplane take off.

He attended Geelong College after a period at Osborne Bush School but returned to his parents' property near Lockhart, New South Wales, to help during a drought in 1946.[3] But the flying bug was strong and in 1949 at the age of 19, Don took flying lessons in Wagga Wagga and soon obtained his licence.[1]

After a period in the RAAF Reserves, successful barnstorming trips around western Victoria flying Tiger Moths and a round Australia odyssey looking for flying work, Don set off for England in 1955.[1]

There he sat for and passed his commercial pilots licence and started working for British European Airways flying Herons, DC3s and later turboprop Viscounts. While in the United Kingdom he met and married Eilish Burke.[4]

He returned to Australia and farming in 1959 but the aviation bug soon took hold again and in 1965 he and his wife moved to Wagga Wagga to become partners in a small flying business.

After buying out their partners, Don and Eilish Kendell set up Premiair Aviation with two Piper Cherokee aircraft. The company was incorporated in 1967 and the name changed to Kendell Airlines in 1971.[1] Since then Kendell has grown steadily despite setbacks caused by rural downturns and the oil crisis.

In a business notorious for a very high failure rate, Kendell Airlines prospered and grew while many other companies came and went. Don Kendell's individual style and integrity earned him enormous respect and admiration throughout the airline industry. He remained firmly committed to regional Australia and resisted attempts to move the airlines head office from Wagga Wagga.

He had a simple philosophy: Offer a reliable, frequent service at the best possible price. He believed that there is no room for sentiment in the airline business – if a route does not pay then you cease to operate it. It is a yardstick that stood him in good stead.

In 1992, Don Kendell was made a member of the Order of Australia (AM) in the Queen's Birthday Honours for his services to aviation. In 2001, he was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Business from Charles Sturt University.[1]

In June 1997, he had retired as Kendell Airline's managing director but had remained as the non-executive chairman for the airline including Ansett's two other subsidiaries, Aeropelican and Skywest Airlines, until 31 December 2000.[1][5]


Don Kendell Drive at the Wagga Wagga Airport was named in honour of the Kendell Airlines founder.

Don Kendell died on 14 October 2001, in Wagga Wagga, at the age of 71 after a battle with cancer.[2][6]

He is survived by his wife Eilish, two sons, Guy and Miles, and two daughters, Mary and Sarah ; as well as his grandchildren Jennifer, Ben, Audrey, Fraser, Bronte, Shani, Adam, Samir, Michael and Max.[7]


  1. ^ a b c d e f McCormack, Michael (15 October 2001). "Airline founder one of a kind". The Daily Advertiser. 
  2. ^ a b "Don Kendell dies amidst airline turmoil". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. 15 October 2001. 
  3. ^ Brogden, Stan; Lowe, Janice (1988). "Fighting back from Wagga Wagga". Flight International. 133 (1043): 20. ISSN 0015-3710. 
  4. ^ "Death Of Mr Donald Moreton Kendell, AM". Parliament of New South Wales. 17 October 2001. Retrieved 22 February 2010. 
  5. ^ Ward, Chris (13 June 1997). "Our Don calls it a day". The Daily Advertiser. 
  6. ^ Shields, Moyra (15 October 2001). "Kendell Airlines founder dies". The World Today. Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 22 February 2010. 
  7. ^ Sheppard, Martine (15 October 2001). "Airline founder dies, aged 71". The Daily Advertiser. 

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