|The name ‘Airlines of South Australia’ came into being on 21st December 1959, to replace Guinea Airways Ltd. Ansett Transport Industries Ltd had previously gained control of Guinea Airways on 23rd October of that year.|
|On 18thJanuary 1960 Airlines of South Australia commenced operations, after Guinea had formally ceased services at midnight the previous day. In addition to the takeover of Guinea Airways five DC-3s and one Auster, a 52-seat Convair 440 VH-BZH was added to the ‘new’ airline’s fleet.|
|Publicity flights to Port Lincoln, Port Pirie and Whyalla by VH-BZH ‘Colonel William Light’ were carried out to enable country people to inspect the Convair airliner. All ex-Guinea DC-3s were gradually repainted in the distinctive ‘South Australian’ markings, featuring an eagle emblem.|
|ASA's inaugural timetable listed flights on the following routes:|
(a) Adelaide/Port Lincoln/Minnipa/Ceduna
(c) Adelaide/Radium Hill/Broken Hill
(d) Adelaide/Kangaroo Island
(e) Adelaide/Port Pirie/Whyalla
The first Manager of ASA was Mr P D Stedman, who served in that capacity until the following year when Mr 'Mick' Connelly (previously Manager of ANSETT-ANA, Mackay) was transferred to the position, Mr Stedman went on to become Manager of ANSETT-M.A.L. and later Airlines of New South Wales, while Mr Connelly remained with ASA until it closed.
An additional Convair 440 VH-BZN was added to the fleet in March 1960 and one DC-3, plus the Auster, were sold. Following the rundown of mining at Radium Hill, that port was deleted from the Airline's network on 3rd June 1962. Naracoorte and Millicent were added to the network from 13 October of that year; DC-3s were used on that service until a new Piaggio P.166B 'Portofino'
VH-ASA was delivered in February 1963. The Piaggio's role was to take over routes, which were not attracting sufficient passenger traffic to justify DC-3 aircraft.
In the winter of 1963 the Piaggio operated flights from Alice Springs to Ayers Rock on behalf of ANSETT-ANA. On 2nd February 1964 the Renmark/Mildura operation was changed to the P.166B and in the same period DC-3/ P.166B aircraft jointly operated Port Pirie services.
An Airlines of New South Wales Douglas DC-4 Skymaster VH-INJ operated on ASA routes in February-March 1964, whilst one of the Convairs was having a major overhaul in Melbourne. This was the only four-engined aircraft ever operated on ASA routes.
Tours to Hayman Island QLD from Adelaide were pioneered in 1964/65 using Convairs. Passengers were flown to Proserpine and then transferred to Hayman Island by launch.
In September 1965 an order for one Fokker F.27 Friendship was announced for delivery during 1966. This was to be the first turbo-prop aircraft in ASA's fleet. Following the delivery of this F.27 VH-FNP in September 1966 a major rationalisation of the fleet and areas served by the airline began.
Naracoorte and Millicent had previously been deleted from timetables on 23rd August 1965; Port Pirie was deleted on 19th September 1966, Renmark and Mildura on 2nd August 1967 and Cowell on 2nd February 1968. All these ports were subsequently taken over by various commuter airlines; using a variety of twin-engined light aircraft.
On 1st November 1968 'Airlines of South Australia' was renamed 'Ansett Airlines of South Australia' (AASA), in keeping with the new Ansett policy of eventually having all its subsidiary airlines aircraft in the same basic colour-scheme while still carrying the individual airline's name.
However, the Convair 440 and DC-3s were not repainted, as they were expected to be retired in the near future. A second F.27 was added to the fleet on 26th February 1971; to replace the remaining DC-3s. These DC-3s - VH-ABR and VH-ANW - were ferried to Essendon Vic to be retired. However, they returned a fortnight later as one of AASA's F.27s was transferred to Ansett to replace an F.27, which had been burnt in a hangar fire at Essendon. This was to be a respite of only six months for the DC-3s, as VH-ANW & VH-ABR were ferried to Essendon again on 4 & 5 October 1971 respectively. AASA's fleet then consisted of two Fokker F.27s (VH-FNB, FNI) and the two Convair 440s (VH-BZF and BZN).
The Convairs were to survive the DC-3s by only a few months, due to the delivery of a third F.27 (VH-FNV) to Adelaide on 7th February 1972. This saw the final retirement of the Convair-liner from Australian airline service. VH-BZN ferried to Essendon on 140272 and VH-BZF on 150272. They were stored until sold to South East Asia. As the AASA fleet consisted of just three F.27s further rationalisation of the route structure continued with Minnipa, Cleve and Kimba services all ceasing in January/February 1973.
A first for AASA came in 1974 with the introduction of special interest weekend flights. These started when the airline flew passengers to see the inland sea caused by Lake Eyre's flooding. These flights were very popular and were expanded. Weekender trips were then operated to such far-flung places as Tasmania, Canberra & Cooma, Victorian Snowfields and Central Australia.
Mount Gambier received AASA services for the first time on 17thJune 1975; Ansett had previously serviced that city through their Fokker F.27 service Adelaide/Mount Gambier/Hamilton/Melbourne.
The gas fields of Moomba provided additional work for AASA from March 1979 with charter flights carrying workers and equipment.
The regular airline connection to Woomera was terminated on 20th April 1979 when the F.27 VH-MMR operated the last Ansett Airlines of SA flight to that port. These services had been flown from Parafield, RAAF Edinburgh and West Beach since Guinea Airways had pioneered the route in January 1951.
In the years 1979/80 the airline was placed under intense competition for passengers by SA commuter airlines operating on AASA routes. However, many of these competitors were unable to sustain high enough passenger loads and most eventually moved onto other routes.
A major change in policy was effected by AASA late in 1980, when a route sharing agreement was commenced with Rossair. AASA would operate services at peak times with F.27s, whilst Rossair Cessna 402s would do the off-peak flights. Rossair also began operating a new route Adelaide – Roxby Downs, on behalf of AASA.
In early-1981, Ansett Transport Industries announced that all their intrastate subsidiaries would be renamed and have local management boards appointed. Accordingly, in July, Ansett Airlines of SA was renamed 'Airlines of SA'. All aircraft were repainted in a distinctive SA colour-scheme, featuring the 'The Piping Shrike' emblem. F.27 VH-MMR was the first aircraft painted in the new scheme and rolled out on 11th July 1981; being displayed at West Beach four days later. F.27 VH-MMV was rolled out in the new scheme on 6th October 1981, followed by VH-FNP on 19th February 1982.
At a ceremony held at West Beach on 14th March 1982, three F.27s were named after famous South Australians; they were: VH-FNP Christened 'Sir Thomas Playford', but carried the name 'Tom Playford', VH-MMR Christened 'Sir Hans Heysen' but carried the name 'Hans Heysen', VH-MMV Christened 'Sir Douglas Mawson' but carried the name 'Douglas Mawson'. F.27 VH-FNR was Christened 'Daisy Bates' on 13th September 1982 and entered service the following day. Being a QC model, FNR flew passenger services during the day and at night was utilised on the Adelaide/Melbourne/Adelaide freight service.
ASA became the first official sponsor of this state's 1986 150th Jubilee celebrations by purchasing from the State Government the right to the use of piping shrike emblem on the aircraft tailfins.
The Adelaide to Ayers Rock route was operated between 31st July and 30 October 1985.
ASA continued to labour on with significant competition and in 1985, after the loss of the lucrative Santos contract to Moomba, it was announced that affiliate airline Kendell Airlines would progressively move onto SA routes.
On 19th February 1986 the formal announcement was made that ASA would phase out all its operations by July.
Mount Gambier received its last passenger service on 15th November 1985.
Ceduna received its last passenger flight on 7th March 1986.
Broken Hill received its last passenger flight on 9th March 1986, when F.27 VH-FNP operated the final flight.
Kingscote received its last flight on 4th April 1986, when F.27 Mk. 200 VH-MMR operated the final service.
Port Lincoln received its last passenger flight on 27th June 1986, when F.27 VH-FNP operated the final service.
Whyalla received its last passenger flight on 27th June 1986, when F.27 VH-MMR operated the final service.
VH-ANN C/N 3272 - In service 18/01/60 (ex VH-GAH 25/01/60). WFS and ferried to Essendon Vic 16/04/66. Total flight time 47,329 hours.
VH-ANP C/N 4096 - In service 18/01/60 (ex VH-GAI 25/01/60) to Victorian Air Coach Services 171261.
VH-ANS C/N 6010 - In service 18/01/60 (ex VH-GAJ 25/01/60) WFS and ferried to Essendon Vic December 1966
VH-ANW C/N 13624 - In service 18/01/60 (ex VH-GAK 25/01/60) WFS and ferried to Essendon Vic 150371 – returned 28/03/71. WFS & ferried to Essendon 04/10/71.
VH-ANZ C/N 9559 - In service 16/04/66, wfs May 1968 and ferried to Essendon Vic
VH-INB C/N 9285 - In service 18/01/60 (ex VH-GAL 25/01/60) to ANSETT-ANA 11/02/60.
VH-BZF C/N 431 - In service May 1962, wfs 12/02/72 and ferried to Essendon Vic 15/02/72.
VH-BZH C/N 458 - In service 18/01/60 'Colonel William Light'. WFS 14/05/62 and ferried to Essendon Vic.
VH-BZN C/N 449 - In service 13/03/60 'City of Adelaide'. WFS 11/02/72 and ferried to Essendon Vic 14/02/72.
Piaggio P.166B Portofino
VH-ASA C/N 409, - In service 19/02/63, WFS 30/06/66.
VH-INJ C/N 42927 - Wet-leased from Airlines of NSW 24/02/64 – 23/03/64.
VH-FNB F.27 Mk. 200 C/N 10136 - In service 26/02/71 – 28/03/71, 03/10/71 – 05/07/76.
VH-FNI F.27 Mk. 200 C/N 10181 - In service 10/05/68 until 13/08/77. 'City of Whyalla'. A/c had been hijacked at Alice Springs on 15/11/72 whilst on Ansett Airlines of Australia flight.
VH-FNJ F.27 Mk. 200 C/N 10264 - In service 30/06/76 to 24/07/77.
VH-FNO F.27 Mk. 400 C/N 10304 was delivered from the manufacturer in Airlines of SA colours; but never operated by the airline.
VH-FNP F.27 Mk. 200 C/N 10305 - In service 16/09/66 until 05/68 'City of Whyalla'. Returned 23/07/77 and used until 27/06/86. Ferried to Melbourne on 28/06/86. In the last 'ASA' colours carried the name 'Tom Playford'.
VH-FNR F.27 Mk. 400QC C/N 10317 delivered to West Beach 10/08/82. In service 14/08/82. Named 'Daisy Bates' 13/09/82. WFS and ferried to Melbourne on 03/12/85.
VH-FNU F.27 Mk. 400 C/N 10334 i- In service 19/09/85 - 08/11/85.
VH-FNV F.27 Mk. 200 C/N 10252, delivered to West Beach 07/02/72. - In service 08/02/72 - 01/10/77.
VH-MMR F.27 Mk. 200 C/N 10303 - In service 03/12/77 - 27/06/86. 'Hans Heysen'. Ferried to Melbourne on 280686.
VH-MMV F.27 Mk. 200 C/N 10355 - In service 01/08/77 - 18/09/85, 09/11/85 – 10/04/86, ferried to Melbourne 11/04/86. Was named 'Sir Douglas Mawson' on 14/03/82.
C/n = constructor's number
I/s = in service date
WFS – withdrawn from service-Route Structure
(a) Adelaide to Ayers Rock 310785 to 301085
(b) Adelaide to Ceduna (via Port Lincoln) 180160 to 070386
(c) Adelaide to Cowell, Cleve, Kimba 180160, ceased Cowell 020268, the rest Jan 1973
(d) Adelaide to Kingscote 180160 to 040486
(e) Adelaide to Minnipa (via Port Lincoln) 180160 to 050273
(f) Adelaide to Mount Gambier 170675 to 151185
(g) Adelaide to Naracoorte, Millicent 131062 to 230865
(h) Adelaide to Port Lincoln 180160 to 270686
(i) Adelaide to Port Pirie, Whyalla 180160, ceased Port Pirie 190966, ceased Whyalla 270686
(j) Adelaide to Radium Hill, Broken Hill 180160, ceased Radium Hill 030662, ceased Broken Hill 090386.
(k) Adelaide to Renmark, Mildura 180160 to 020867
(l) Adelaide to Woomera 180160 to 200479
Compiled by Nigel Daw.
History : Airlines of South Australia