Aviation in Australia

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Total monthly arrivals to Australia since 1976

Aviation in Australia began in the 1920s with the formation of Qantas, which became the flag carrier of Australia. The Australian National Airways (ANA) was the predominant domestic carrier from the mid-1930s to the early 1950s. After World War II, Qantas was nationalised and its domestic operations were transferred to Trans Australia Airlines (TAA) in 1946. The Two Airlines Policy was formally established in 1952 to ensure the viability of both airlines. However, ANA's leadership was quickly eroded by TAA, and it was acquired by Ansett Transport Industries in 1957. The duopoly continued for the next four decades. In the mid-1990s TAA was merged with Qantas and later privatised. Ansett collapsed in September 2001. In the following years, Virgin Australia became a challenger to Qantas. Both companies launched low-cost subsidiaries Jetstar and Tigerair Australia, respectively.

Overseas flights from Australia to Europe via the Eastern Hemisphere are known as the Kangaroo Route, whereas flights via the Western Hemisphere are known as the Southern Cross Route. Qantas began international passenger flights in May 1935. In 1954, the first flight from Australia to North America was completed, as a 60-passenger Qantas aircraft connected Sydney with San Francisco and Vancouver, having fuel stops at Fiji, Canton Island and Hawaii. In 1982, a Pan Am first flew non-stop from Los Angeles to Sydney. A non-stop flight between Australia and Europe was first completed in March 2018 from Perth to London.

History[edit]

Until World War II[edit]

Air routes of Australia in 1925

In 1934, Qantas and Britain's Imperial Airways (a forerunner of British Airways) formed a new company, Qantas Empire Airways Limited (QEA),[1] which commenced operations in December 1934, flying between Brisbane and Darwin. QEA flew internationally from May 1935, when the service from Darwin was extended to Singapore, and Imperial Airways operated the rest of the service through to London.[2] Australian National Airways (ANA) was established in 1936 by a consortium of British-financed Australian shipowners.

Until World War II, Australia had been one of the world's leading centres of aviation. With its tiny population of about seven million, Australia ranked sixth in the world for scheduled air mileage, had 16 airlines, was growing at twice the world average, and had produced a number of prominent aviation pioneers, including Lawrence Hargrave, Harry Hawker, Bert Hinkler, Lawrence Wackett, the Reverend John Flynn, Sidney Cotton, Keith Virtue and Charles Kingsford Smith. Governments on both sides of politics, well aware of the immense stretches of uninhabitable desert that separated the small productive regions of Australia, regarded air transport as a matter of national importance. In the words of Arthur Brownlow Corbett, Director General of Civil Aviation:

A nation which refuses to use flying in its national life must necessarily today be a backward and defenceless nation.[3]

Air transport was encouraged both with direct subsidies and with mail contracts. Immediately before the start of the war, more than half of all airline passenger and freight miles were subsidised.

However, after 1939 and especially after Japan's invasion of the islands to the north in 1941, civil aviation was sacrificed to military needs. During the war, most of the Qantas fleet of ten was taken over by the Australian government for war service and enemy action and accidents destroyed half of the fleet.[4]

Post World War II[edit]

By the end of the Second World War, there were only nine domestic airlines remaining, eight smaller regional concerns and Australian National Airways (ANA), a conglomerate owned by British and Australian shipping interests which had a virtual monopoly on the major trunk routes and received 85% of all government air transport subsidies.

The Chifley Government's view was summed up by Minister for Air, Arthur Drakeford: Where are the great pioneers of aviation? ..... We discover that one by one the small pioneer enterprises are disappearing from the register. It is the inevitable process of absorption by a monopoly. Air transport, the government believed, was primarily a public service, like hospitals, the railways or the post office. If there was to be a monopoly at all, then it should be one owned by the public and working in the public interest.

In August 1945, only two days after the end of World War II, the Australian parliament passed the Australian National Airways Bill, which set up the Australian National Airways Commission (ANAC) and charged it with the task of reconstructing the nation's air transport industry. In keeping with the Labor government's socialist leanings, the bill declared that licences of private operators would lapse for those routes that were adequately serviced by the national carrier. From this time on, it seemed, air transport in Australia would be a government monopoly. However, a legal challenge (Australian National Airways Pty Ltd v Commonwealth), backed by the Liberal opposition and business interests generally, was successful and in December 1945, the High Court ruled that the Commonwealth did not have the power to prevent the issue of airline licences to private companies. The government could set up an airline if it wished, but it could not legislate a monopoly. Much of the press objected strongly to the setting up of a public airline network, seeing it as a form of socialisation by stealth.

The bill was suitably amended to remove the monopoly provisions, and ANAC came into existence in February 1946. ANAC formed Trans Australia Airlines (TAA) in 1946, and nationalised Qantas in 1947. Qantas's domestic operations, in Queensland, were transferred to TAA, while Qantas continued as an international airline. Shortly later, QEA began its first services outside the British Empire, to Tokyo,[5] and services to Hong Kong began around the same time.

Two Airlines Policy[edit]

However, ANA's leadership in Australia's aviation was quickly being eroded by TAA, so in 1952, the Menzies Government formally established the "Two Airlines Policy", to ensure the viability of both major airlines, the government-owned TAA and the privately owned ANA. In reality, it ensured the survival of the private airline ANA.

Under the policy, only two airlines were allowed to operate flights between state capital cities and major regional city airports. The Two Airlines Policy was in fact a legal barrier to new entrants to the Australian aviation market. It restricted intercapital services to the two major domestic carriers. This anti-competitive arrangement ensured that they carried approximately the same number of passengers, charged the same fares and had similar fleet sizes and equipment.

Ivan Holyman, managing director of ANA and its main driving force, died in 1957. The five British shipping companies that owned the airline had been trying to get out for several years, and offered to sell out to the government, in order that ANA merge with TAA and some smaller airlines.[6] The government declined. Later that year, ANA was acquired by the much smaller Ansett Airways, and the duopoly would continue for the next four decades.

Deregulation[edit]

Deregulation of aviation in Australia commenced in the late 1980s.

In 1986 Trans-Australia Airlines was renamed Australian Airlines,[7] which merged in September 1992 with Qantas. Qantas was gradually privatised between 1993 and 1997.[8][9][10] The legislation allowing privatisation requires Qantas to be at least 51% owned by Australian shareholders.

In 1988, the Australian Government formed the Federal Airports Corporation (FAC), placing 22 airports around the nation under its operational control.[citation needed] In April 1994, the Government announced that all airports operated by FAC would be privatised in several phases.[11]

Virgin Australia was launched as Virgin Blue in August 2000. The timing of Virgin Blue's entry into the Australian market was fortuitous as it was able to fill the vacuum created by the collapse of Ansett Australia in September 2001. In the following years, Virgin Australia became a challenger to Qantas. Both companies launched low-cost subsidiaries: Qantas formed Jetstar in 2003 and Virgin acquired Tigerair Australia in 2013.

Statistics[edit]

Top 30 routes by annual passenger numbers[edit]

Data retrieved from Department of Infrastructure, Regional Development and Cities[12]
Rank City 1 City 2 Distance (km) 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017
1 Victoria (Australia) Melbourne New South Wales Sydney 707 7,008,000 7,088,600 7,901,100 7,727,500 8,047,700 8,244,000 8,316,900 8,613,400 8,904,700 9,097,100
2 Queensland Brisbane New South Wales Sydney 752 4,306,500 4,295,800 4,397,500 4,406,000 4,390,700 4,425,100 4,448,100 4,476,200 4,658,100 4,736,300
3 Queensland Brisbane Victoria (Australia) Melbourne 1379 2,688,500 2,706,200 3,020,200 3,090,400 3,189,600 3,198,800 3,317,100 3,353,800 3,493,300 3,541,100
4 Queensland Gold Coast New South Wales Sydney 679 2,164,800 2,148,000 2,405,000 2,244,800 2,440,600 2,559,100 2,595,200 2,618,300 2,704,400 2,740,700
5 South Australia Adelaide Victoria (Australia) Melbourne 642 2,122,700 2,103,800 2,271,400 2,186,700 2,085,200 2,195,100 2,272,000 2,311,000 2,393,900 2,456,400
6 Victoria (Australia) Melbourne Western Australia Perth 2705 1,772,200 1,724,900 1,736,400 1,855,900 2,130,700 2,290,700 2,160,700 2,138,900 2,072,900 2,033,200
7 Queensland Gold Coast Victoria (Australia) Melbourne 1328 1,673,500 1,615,800 1,767,600 1,671,300 1,790,700 1,675,400 1,754,000 1,812,300 1,966,100 2,012,600
8 South Australia Adelaide New South Wales Sydney 1167 1,589,100 1,600,200 1,785,700 1,722,700 1,751,200 1,751,900 1,813,000 1,831,500 1,872,000 1,898,300
9 Western Australia Perth New South Wales Sydney 3285 1,493,200 1,465,100 1,622,700 1,731,700 1,811,400 1,800,400 1,798,900 1,760,900 1,753,700 1,716,500
10 Tasmania Hobart Victoria (Australia) Melbourne 616 1,157,800 1,202,300 1,231,900 1,157,900 1,239,100 1,388,800 1,400,100 1,493,600 1,555,500 1,630,300
11 Queensland Brisbane Queensland Cairns 1387 1,196,500 1,154,800 1,153,800 1,108,000 1,187,000 1,199,600 1,256,100 1,307,000 1,346,900 1,377,900
12 Australian Capital Territory Canberra Victoria (Australia) Melbourne 470 1,068,500 1,093,800 1,038,000 1,065,200 1,003,100 994,500 972,300 984,200 1,026,100 1,133,000
13 Queensland Cairns New South Wales Sydney 1967 940,300 832,900 876,800 894,300 933,900 978,600 1,000,900 1,032,600 1,115,300 1,129,300
14 Queensland Brisbane Western Australia Perth 3615 683,400 718,000 755,100 867,500 951,500 1,017,700 1,062,000 1,007,800 984,100 969,100
15 Queensland Brisbane Queensland Townsville 1110 968,700 942,600 941,100 977,400 994,200 957,500 948,200 965,300 976,600 960,200
16 Australian Capital Territory Canberra New South Wales Sydney 237 959,500 1,021,800 1,096,200 1,069,100 1,053,200 1,027,600 968,200 946,800 959,400 949,200
17 Tasmania Launceston Victoria (Australia) Melbourne 476 842,900 832,800 838,200 790,500 835,800 872,800 878,300 880,500 918,000 923,200
18 South Australia Adelaide Queensland Brisbane 1621 660,300 637,000 717,100 679,800 729,200 747,500 776,700 792,800 830,300 849,600
19 Queensland Cairns Victoria (Australia) Melbourne 2305 482,200 389,800 451,100 504,800 581,700 677,600 711,800 770,600 823,400 841,300
20 Queensland Brisbane Queensland Mackay 795 727,100 735,900 798,000 908,900 964,900 863,500 746,400 696,400 678,500 697,900
21 Tasmania Hobart New South Wales Sydney 1038 458,700 490,300 502,800 472,800 477,900 517,200 536,400 546,300 616,600 655,900
22 South Australia Adelaide Western Australia Perth 2120 577,600 626,000 599,000 592,500 621,700 624,300 616,400 611,000 617,100 614,100
23 Queensland Brisbane Australian Capital Territory Canberra 954 609,500 604,500 612,700 620,500 605,400 583,000 560,200 558,200 576,100 594,300
24 Queensland Brisbane New South Wales Newcastle 613 529,300 564,300 579,100 582,200 591,800 583,700 570,300 543,700 574,000 590,700
25 Queensland Sunshine Coast New South Wales Sydney 835 477,600 446,700 460,300 475,100 463,300 464,600 464,100 481,800 539,800 582,700
26 Queensland Brisbane Queensland Rockhampton 517 569,600 600,600 643,900 606,400 644,400 636,100 612,600 587,800 563,800 522,100
27 Victoria (Australia) Melbourne Queensland Sunshine Coast 1452 452,100 412,300 403,200 382,000 324,600 392,200 397,600 406,000 441,800 485,800
28 Victoria (Australia) Melbourne New South Wales Newcastle 835 416,800 369,000 370,700 429,700 425,200 437,500 434,900 443,000 449,500 476,100
29 Western Australia Karratha Western Australia Perth 1247 - 518,300 587,100 646,100 762,500 722,100 685,200 600,200 490,600 436,900
30 Queensland Brisbane Northern Territory Darwin 2850 341,600 381,600 367,200 366,000 367,000 375,900 391,500 396,200 407,700 406,200

Busiest airports[edit]

Domestic Airport passenger numbers are calculated by the Department of Infrastructure and Transport and include passenger numbers from the major domestic airlines only; these being Qantas, Virgin Australia, Jetstar Airways and Tiger Australia. Regional Express, QantasLink and similar airlines are considered to be regional airlines and are not included in these figures.

Monthly
Busiest Airports by Domestic Passenger Numbers
Month of March 2015[13]
Rank Airport State Total
Mar 2014
Total
Mar 2015
Monthly
Change %
1. Sydney Airport New South Wales New South Wales 2,154,200 2,209,600 Increase2.6
2. Melbourne Airport Victoria (Australia) Victoria 1,974,700 2,055,400 Increase4.1
3. Brisbane Airport Queensland Queensland 1,402,700 1,390,600 Decrease0.9
4. Perth Airport Western Australia Western Australia 731,600 713,200 Decrease2.5
5. Adelaide Airport South Australia South Australia 581,300 585,100 Increase0.7
6. Gold Coast Airport Queensland Queensland 398,100 400,000 Increase0.5
7. Cairns Airport Queensland Queensland 278,000 284,900 Increase2.5
8. Canberra Airport Australian Capital Territory Australian Capital Territory 250,400 252,000 Increase0.7
9. Hobart Airport Tasmania Tasmania 192,300 199,200 Increase3.6
10. Darwin Airport Northern Territory Northern Territory 128,300 125,800 Decrease1.9
Yearly
Busiest Airports by Domestic Passenger Numbers
FY 2016-2017[14]
Rank Airport State FY 2015-16 FY 2016-17 Change %
1 Sydney Airport New South Wales New South Wales 26,587,000 27,077,700 Increase1.8
2 Melbourne Airport Victoria (Australia) Victoria 24,482,700 24,996,800 Increase2.1
3 Brisbane Airport Queensland Queensland 17,013,200 17,102,600 Increase0.5
4 Perth Airport Western Australia Western Australia 8,285,900 8,029,500 Decrease3.1
5 Adelaide Airport South Australia South Australia 6,922,000 7,049,200 Increase1.8
6 Gold Coast Airport Queensland Queensland 5,256,400 5,362,800 Increase2.0
7 Cairns Airport Queensland Queensland 4,141,800 4,283,300 Increase3.4
8 Canberra Airport Australian Capital Territory Australian Capital Territory 2,816,000 2,932,800 Increase4.1
9 Hobart Airport Tasmania Tasmania 2,312,900 2,440,800 Increase5.5
10 Darwin Airport Northern Territory Northern Territory 1,783,700 1,809,400 Increase1.4

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "The Move to Brisbane". Our Company. Qantas. Archived from the original on 9 October 2006. Retrieved 16 December 2006. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  2. ^ "Venturing Overseas". Our Company. Qantas. Archived from the original on 9 October 2006. Retrieved 16 December 2006. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  3. ^ "ANAC – Beginning of TAA". 12 May 2009. Archived from the original on 8 March 2010. Retrieved 28 July 2010. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  4. ^ "The World at War". Our Company. Qantas. Archived from the original on 9 October 2006. Retrieved 16 December 2006. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  5. ^ "Post War Expansion". Our Company. Qantas. Archived from the original on 9 October 2006. Retrieved 16 December 2006. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  6. ^ Grant, J. R. A False Dawn? Australian National Airways Air Enthusiast magazine article July–August 1997 No.70 pp. 22–24
  7. ^ "World airline directory – Qantas Airways". Flight International. 143 (4362): 117. 24–30 March 1993. ISSN 0015-3710. Archived from the original on 25 October 2012. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  8. ^ The Hon R. Willis, Answer to a Question without Notice, House of Representatives Debates, 13 May 1993, p.775.
  9. ^ Commonwealth of Australia Budget Statements 1996–97, Budget Paper no. 3, p. 3-191.
  10. ^ Ian Thomas, '"Luck" played a key part in float success', Australian Financial Review, 31 July 1995.
  11. ^ Frost & Sullivan (25 April 2006). "Airport Privatisation". MarketResearch.com. Retrieved 20 July 2008. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  12. ^ Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics (23 March 2018). "Australian Domestic Aviation Activity Annual Publications". Retrieved 16 May 2018.
  13. ^ Australian Domestic Aviation Activity Monthly Publications - Monthly
  14. ^ Airport traffic data - Yearly

Bibliography[edit]

  • Grant, Jim. "From Theory to Production: Australian Aviation Development 1870 to 1939". Air Enthusiast, No. 83, September–October 1999, pp. 58–61. ISSN 0143-5450