Australian National Airways Pty Ltd.

The in-depth histories of the individual aircraft that have been operated by Australian National Airways.










Australia National Airways Fleet:


- Bristol 170 Freighter

- Douglas DC-2

- Douglas DC-3

- Douglas DC-4

- Douglas DC-6



Background Information.


On 19 March 19, 1932 Flinders Island Airways began a regular aerial service using the Desoutter Mk II VH-UEE ‘Miss Launceston’ between Launceston, Tasmania and Flinders Island in Bass Strait, which competed with the  shipping services offered by William Holyman and Sons Ltd. Due to the monopoly arrangements that existed with other Australian shipowners, Holymans (as it was known) was only allowed to carry passengers on internal Tasmanian routes and resented the intrusion.

The two brothers Captain Victor Holyman and Ivan Holyman purchased the de Havilland DH-83 Fox Moth VH-UQM ‘Miss Currie’ which entered service on the same route on October 01, 1932.

Holymans soon amalgamated with Flinders Island Airways to form Tasmanian Aerial Services Pty Ltd. They later purchased the de Havilland DH-84 Dragon VH-URD ‘Miss Launceston’ and began a regular service between Melbourne - Flinders Island and Launceston in September 1933.

Following the Australian Government's announcement of the Empire Air Mail Scheme in late in 1933, Holymans entered into a partnership with the two main shipping companies servicing Tasmania, being Huddart Parker and the Union Steamship Company of New Zealand, to form an equal-share partnership in a new Holyman's Airways Pty Ltd headed by Ivan Holyman.

The new company, with a capital of £90,000, was registered in July 1934 and ordered two new de Havilland DH-86 airliners from the United Kingdom. The first of these, VH-URN ‘Miss Hobart’ began operating across Bass Strait on September 28, 1934. Unfortunately it went missing just three weeks later on October 18, 1934 and was believed to have crashed off Wilsons Promontory. Captain Victor Holyman's was one of the twelve lives lost.

Undaunted, Holyman's Airways purchased a second-hand de havilland DH-84 - VH-URG ‘Golden West’ and ordered two more DH-86s. These aircraft were needed to expand their  planned operations throughout south-eastern Australia. A route from Melbourne to Sydney via Canberra was established in 1935 using the DH-86 VH-UUB ‘Loila’.

On October 02, 1935, the day of its first proving flight between the two capitals, another of its DH-86s, VH-URT ‘Loina’ crashed into Bass Strait off Flinders Island killing all five on board. The Melbourne - Sydney flights, the first regular daily airmail service between the two centres got underway on October 07, 1935.

After a non-fatal accident in Bass Strait to the DH-86 VH-USW ‘Lepena’ on December 13, 1935, Ivan Holyman used his influence with the Australian Government to have an official ban on the importation of commercial aircraft built in the United States to be lifted. Holyman's Airways immediately ordered an example of the recently introduced all-metal  Douglas DC-2. This aircraft, registered as VH-USY 'Bungana’ entered service on May 18, 1936.

Early in 1936 Ivan Holyman approached the Adelaide Steamship Company who were the owners of Adelaide Airways, with a view to an amalgamation aiming to become Australia's most powerful airline. Adelaide Airways had recently taken over West Australian Airways and the new combine would thus effectively control all airline traffic between Perth - Adelaide - Melbourne and Sydney.

With funding from the Orient Steam Navigation Company a new Australian National Airways was registered on May13, 1936, and began services under its new name on July 01, 1936. It acquired a second Douglas DC-2 VH-UXJ ‘Loongana’ which it used to begin a twice-weekly service between Melbourne and Perth on December 21, 1936.

Meanwhile efforts to expand operation northwards to Queensland were being thwarted by Airlines of Australia (AoA), its main competitor. Established in 1931 as New England Airways by G.A. Robinson and Keith Virtue of Lismore, it operated services in northern New South Wales and between Sydney and Brisbane, Queensland, expanding further into Queensland by taking over a number of struggling regional airlines during the mid-1930s. It was restructured as AoA in 1934 with funding by an investment group the British Pacific Trust.

In 1936 it introduced Stinson Model A airliners in a regular service between Sydney and Brisbane, and later acquired Douglas DC-2s and the larger Douglas DC-3. After several months of fruitless negotiations with its financiers, ANA managed to gain a controlling interest in AoA in April 1937, although the two airlines retained separate public identities until 1942. Between them the two airlines operated four DC-2s and four DC-3s by the time of the outbreak of World War II, as well as several other aircraft including two Stinson Model As, two DH-84s, two DH-86s and nine de Havilland DH-89 Rapides.

When Australia entered World War II in 1939 the Australian Government requisitioned ANA's four Douglas DC-3s, leaving it to battle on with its assortment of lesser aircraft. However ANA was soon operating a network of services around Australia on behalf of the war effort. It operated a number of Douglas DC-2s, DC-3s and even at least one rare Douglas DC-5 mostly on the behalf of the American forces in Australia.

The Chifley Government was determined that post-war aviation in Australia would be a state monopoly. Its legislation was stymied however by the Airline Operators Secretariat, which argued that the Australian Constitution guaranteed freedom of commerce between the states. The High Court of Australia agreed in its ‘Airlines Case’ decision.

Although ANA had won its case against the Commonwealth of Australia, it now faced severe competition in the form of the state-owned airline Trans-Australia Airlines (TAA). ANA had hitherto enjoyed a near-monopoly on domestic air transport. From the start TAA was a better run airline. It particularly made better choices of aircraft than ANA. Ivan Holyman stuck to his relationship with Douglas, buying the non-pressurised Douglas DC-4 and the larger pressurised Douglas DC-6B, while TAA opted for the revolutionary pressurised Convair 240s and the larger British built Vickers Viscount turbo prop airliners.

By the mid-1950s TAA had driven ANA close to collapse. Holyman had wanted to expand overseas but the government's ownership of Qantas prevented this. He bought shareholdings in Cathay Pacific Airlines and Air Ceylon but ANA aircraft were never seen on international routes. In 1952 the conservative Menzies Government declined to close TAA down, instead it provided ANA with finance to upgrade its fleet to compete with TAA. At this point Holyman opted for DC-6Bs while TAA went for the more attractive Viscount.

When Sir Ivan Holyman died suddenly in 1957 the shareholders offered to sell out to the Australian Government, in order that ANA merge with TAA and some smaller airlines. The government declined.

The Takeover by Ansett Transport Industries.

After initially dismissing his offer, the ANA board began talking seriously with Reginald Ansett, head of the much smaller Ansett Airways. Finally October 03, 1957 ANA was sold to Ansett, for £3.3 million. The two airlines were merged to form Ansett-ANA on October 21, 1957 and this name was retained until November 01, 1968 when the airline was renamed Ansett Airlines of Australia.