QantasLink de Havilland Canada DHC-8 'Dash 8'.


Background Information.

Qantaslink can trace its lineage back to the three Regional Airlines that once operated independently within Australia – Eastern Australia Airlines, Sunstate Airlines and Southern Australia Airlines.

Eastern Australia Airlines.

Eastern Australia Airlines can trace its history back to 1949, when Tamworth Air Taxi Service (which soon became known as Tamair)  was set up with just one aircraft to offer services to small rural towns in northern New South Wales and Queensland.

Other subsidiaries of Tamair, Air Eastland and New England Airways, were subsequently merged into a new airline named East Coast Commuter Airlines. Later this name was again changed to East Coast Airlines Ltd, then Eastern Airlines and finally to Eastern Australia Airlines. In the early years aircraft such as the Piper Aztec, Twin Commanche and the Seneca were operated, together with Cessna Centurians and Embraer Bandeirantes.

In 1987 after Ansett Airlines had acquired East-West Airlines, the Trade Practices Commission in Australia ruled that Ansett should sell off some routes and aircraft. East-West Airlines itself had a financial interest in Eastern Airlines which was by then an important operator in New South Wales. Australian Airlines (ex Trans-Australia Airlines) stepped in and took a 26% interest in Eastern Airlines and by 1990 had purchased all the remaining shares to make Eastern a 100% owned subsidiary. Consequently, Eastern became a fully owned subsidiary of Qantas when Australian Airlines was merged with the former in the early 1990s.

Southern Australia Airlines.

Southern Australia Airlines was formed in January 1992 as a link operation for Australian Airlines, which at the time was one of Australia’s two main domestic carriers. Murray Valley Airlines, based in Mildura, Victoria, had been formed in mid 1981with services operating between Mildura and Melbourne, Renmark and Adelaide in South Australia, and Broken Hill in New South Wales. Services were initially operated with a small fleet of Cessna 402s, an Embraer Bandeirante and a pair of Short SD-360s.

Murray Valley Airlines had financial difficulties and ceased operations in October 1986. Sunstate Airlines from Queensland came to the rescue by purchasing a shareholding in Murray Valley Airlines and services were recommenced on November 09, 1986 under the name Sunstate Airlines, Mildura. In 1989 Sunstate Mildura set up an Air Ambulance operation on behalf of Ambulance Victoria with a fleet of 6 Cessna 404 Titan IIs. The operation changed again in 1992 when Australian Airlines took control of Sunstate Mildura and changed the name of the company to Southern Australia Airlines as part of their Australian Airlink operation. The fleet was updated with de Havilland Canada Dash-8-102s, and then in 1996 commenced jet operation with a pair of British Aerospace BAe146-200s (later increased to 3 aircraft). The BAe146s were used on services from Melbourne to Launceston and Hobart, and Sydney to Launceston and Hobart, but in October 2001, the route structure for the jet fleet was altered dramatically to allow Qantaslink/Impulse Airlines on to these routes. Southern Australia Airlines then took up services on the Adelaide to Canberra and Brisbane to Canberra routes.

In September 2002 the de Havilland Canada DHC-8 fleet (with crews) was transferred to Eastern Australia Airlines and the BAe146 fleet transferred into the National Jet Systems ‘Qantaslink’ operation, effectively bringing an end to Southern Australia Airlines. If you’re ever at Gate 10 in the Qantas domestic terminal at Melbourne Tullamarine, take a look at a small sign which appears above a doorway at that gate, which in 2018 still reads, “This  way to Southern Australia Airlines Flights” – perhaps the airline hasn’t disappeared at all!

Sunstate Airlines.

The origins of Sunstate Airlines beginnings can be traced back to December 1975 when a small operator, Noosa Airlines, began operations with a single Britten-Norman Islander aircraft between Maryborough and Brisbane, Queensland. Bevan Whitaker who owned Noosa Airlines and it’s parent company, Whitaker Pty Ltd, decided in December 1981 to set up another small carrier to operate routes abandoned by Trans-Australia Airlines when they began withdrawing their fleet of Fokker F27 Friendship aircraft. The new airline was named Sunstate Airlines and services were commenced with an Embraer Bandierante aircraft.

By 1983 Noosa Airlines and Sunstate had merged and from January 01, 1984 the combined Sunstate operation was flying as part of the Trans-Australia Airlines' Queensland network. Some aircraft rationalisation took place and the airline was well on the way to growth and expansion.

On June 01, 1987 Sunstate took over the routes of Air Queensland who were in financial difficulty, and again increased their fleet in order to meet the new challenges they faced. Around this time Sunstate Airlines also took over Murray Valley Airlines in Mildura, Victoria (See Southern Australia Airlines pages). By 1989 Australian Airlines (the new name for Trans-Australian Airlines) had purchased a one-third share in Sunstate Airlines and increased its shareholding to 100% in 1990. By 1992 Sunstate was operating with Australian Airlines flight numbers and had started operating a small fleet of de Havilland Canada 'Dash 8' turboprop aircraft. In 1993 Sunstate absorbed Australian Regional Airlines and took over its fleet and route network.

In 2001 Sunstate Airlines, along with Eastern Australia Airlines, Southern Australia Airlines, Impulse Airlines and National Jet Systems Airlink operation were re-branded as QANTASLINK. Subsequently Southern Australia Airlines was absorbed by Eastern Australia Airlines and Impulse became Jetstar on May 25, 2004. Eastern Australia Airlines, Sunstate Airlines and the National Jet Systems Airlink operation (now Cobham Aviation Services Australia) form the Qantaslink operation on behalf of Qantas Airways, the parent company.

The de Havilland Canada (now Bombardier) DHC-8 aircraft has played a very important part in all of these carriers with the first aircraft (VH-TQO) being delivered to Eastern Australia Airlines in December 1988. Since then all marques of this aircraft (i.e. Dash 100s, 200s, 300s and Q400s) bring the total fleet operated by Qantaslink to 80 aircraft.



QantasLink de Havilland Canada DHC-8-100.


VH-FNQ (c/n 258)
VH-JSI (c/n 229)
VH-JSY (c/n 013)
VH-NID (c/n 170)
VH-TND (c/n 036)
VH-TNG (c/n 041)
VH-TNU (c/n 036)
VH-TNW (c/n 243)
VH-TNX (c/n 033)
VH-TQF (c/n 067)
VH-TQN (c/n 062)
VH-TQO (c/n 004)
VH-TQP (c/n 135)
VH-TQQ (c/n 204)
VH-TQR (c/n 208)
VH-TQT (c/n 349)
VH-TQU (c/n 346)
VH-TQV (c/n 362)
VH-TQW (c/n 306)
VH-WZI (c/n 014)
VH-WZJ (c/n 027)
VH-WZS (c/n 005)
VH-XFT (c/n 052)
VH-XFU (c/n 151)


QantasLink de Havilland Canada DHC-8-200.


VH-SDA (c/n 482)
VH-SDE (c/n 453)
VH-TQG (c/n 430)
VH-TQS (c/n 418)
VH-TQX (c/n 439)

QantasLink Bombardier DHC-8-300.


VH-IVI (c/n 261)
VH-SBB (c/n 539)
VH-SBG (c/n 575)
VH-SBI (c/n 605)
VH-SBJ (c/n 578)
VH-SBT (c/n 580)
VH-SBV (c/n 595)
VH-SBW (c/n 599)
VH-SCE (c/n 602)
VH-TQA (c/n 365)
VH-TQB (c/n 400)
VH-TQC (c/n 423)
VH-TQD (c/n 598)
VH-TQE (c/n 596)
VH-TQH (c/n 597)
VH-TQK (c/n 600)
VH-TQL (c/n 603)
VH-TQM (c/n 604)
VH-TQY (c/n 552)
VH-TQZ (c/n 555)

QantasLink Bombardier DHC-8-400.


VH-LQB (c/n 4343)
VH-LQD (c/n 4371)
VH-LQF (c/n 4375)
VH-LQG (c/n 4376)
VH-LQH (c/n 4431)
VH-LQJ (c/n 4414)
VH-LQK (c/n 4415)
VH-LQL (c/n 4449)
VH-LQM (c/n 4450)
VH-QOA (c/n 4112)
VH-QOB (c/n 4116)
VH-QOC (c/n 4117)
VH-QOD (c/n 4123)
VH-QOE (c/n 4125)
VH-QOF (c/n 4128)
VH-QOH (c/n 4132)
VH-QOI (c/n 4189)
VH-QOJ (c/n 4192)
VH-QOK (c/n 4215)
VH-QOM (c/n 4217)
VH-QON (c/n 4218)
VH-QOP (c/n 4238)
VH-QOR (c/n 4241)
VH-QOS (c/n 4263)
VH-QOT (c/n 4269)
VH-QOU (c/n 4275)
VH-QOV (c/n 4277)
VH-QOW (c/n 4285)
VH-QOX (c/n 4287)
VH-QOY (c/n 4288)