Connellan Airways

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Connellan Airways
IATA ICAO Callsign
Founded 1939[2]
Ceased operations 1980
(acquired by East-West-Airlines)
Operating bases Alice Springs Airport
Headquarters Alice Springs, Australia
Key people Edward Connellan (founder)
A Connellan Airways de Havilland Dragon Rapide visiting the Roper River Mission (1948).
A Royal Flying Doctor Service patient is transferred from a Connellan Airways de Havilland Fox Moth to an ambulance (1954).

Connellan Airways (later Connair) was an airline headquartered in Alice Springs, Australia.[3] It operated scheduled flights as well other air transport services throughout the Northern Territory from 1939 to 1980.[1][4]


The company was founded in 1939 as Survey & Inland Transport by Edward Connellan, an aviation pioneer.[1] In 1938, Connellan had conducted two aerial surveys of the Northern Territory, and after discussion with John McEwen, the then responsible Federal Minister, undertook a fortnightly mail run between Alice Springs and Wyndham, Western Australia. He also signed a contract with the Royal Flying Doctor Service.[5]

In the midst of World War II, Connellan consolidated his air services, which had grown viable and included more routes, and registered Connellan Airways on 23 July 1943. In the post-war years Connellan Airways grew, acquiring new routes and equipment. In February 1951 it became a limited company, with many of the shares held by station people and staff. In 1963 Connellan Airways became a regular public transport operator. The Royal Flying Doctor Service continued to charter Connellan Airways aircraft up to 1965, when it purchased two aircraft from the company, but continued using Connellan pilots until 1973.[5]

In 1970 the company name was changed to Connair. Over the next decade, financial difficulties had to be faced. Subsequently, Connair was sold to East-West-Airlines on 14 March 1980. It went into liquidation shortly after.[5][6] After the sale, the Connellan Airways Trust was set up, using some of the proceeds.

Incidents and accidents[edit]

  • On 23 October 1975, a Connair de Havilland Heron (registered VH-CLS) crashed during approach of Cairns Airport following a scheduled passenger service from Mount Isa as Flight 1263, killing the eight passengers and three crew on board. It was later determined that the pilots had not adhered to the standard operational procedures for a missed approach when the airplane could not be properly aligned with the runway.[7][8]
  • On 5 January 1977, a former employee of the airline deliberately crashed a stolen Beechcraft Baron light aircraft into the Connair headquarters at Alice Springs Airport, in a suicide attack. Four other people were killed in the incident, among them Roger Connellan (son of founder Edward Connellan), and four were injured.


  1. ^ a b c Informationa about Connellan Airways at the Aero Transport Data Bank
  2. ^ "How Airways Served North Australian Outback". Townsville Daily Bulletin. LXVII. Queensland, Australia. 18 September 1946. p. 8. Retrieved 26 August 2017 – via National Library of Australia. 
  3. ^ "World Airline Directory]." Flight International. 28 April 1979. p. 1367. "Head Office: PO Box 1, Alice Springs, Northern Territory, Australia."
  4. ^ Images of Connellan Airways timetables at
  5. ^ a b c "History of the Connellan Airways Trust". Connellan Airways Trust. Retrieved 2006-07-18. 
  6. ^ "Fact Sheet 155: Edward John Connellan and Connellan Airways". National Archives of Australia. Retrieved 2007-12-25. 
  7. ^ Information about the accident of Flight 1263 at the aviation safety network
  8. ^ Official ATSB accident investigation report into Flight 1263


  • Donovan, Peter (1989). Connellan Airways: Outback Airline. Alice Springs, NT: Chris Connellan. ISBN 0909120943. 

External links[edit]