Strategic Airlines was founded in 1991 as an air freight broker and trading as Air Charter Logistics, Strategic Aviation Pty Ltd was established by its Executive Director Shaun Aisen. The company specialised in the transportation of oversize or unique cargo, chartering aircraft such as the Russian built Antonov An-124, Ilyushin IL-76 or Boeing 747 freighters.
In 2002 Michael James joined the company as an Executive Director and equal shareholder. With a background at Ansett and in the air charter business, James assisted the company to successfully bid for the Australian Defence Force Troop Lift Contract. With this diversification the trading name was dropped and the company rebranded as Strategic.
This contract was initially serviced with a leased Airbus A330 from the Portuguese Airline HiFly utilising Australian crews. Former OzJet operations director David Blake was appointed CEO in 2008 to assist with the expansion of the airline side of the business. The first Australian-registered aircraft, an Airbus A330-200 was delivered in July 2009 and the Australian Air Operators Certificate was awarded soon after in September. This was complemented by the third A320 in December 2009.
In June 2009 Strategic purchased the troubled airline OzJet along with its staff thus ensuring full entitlements were paid, its Air Operators Certificate and the Perth - Derby RPT route. The route was serviced by a chartered Fokker 100 from Alliance Airlines until Strategic's first Australian-registered Airbus A320 was introduced in early 2010.
In February 2011 Executive Director, Shaun Aisen severed his ties with the company leaving Michael James the sole owner. Six months following Aisen's departure from the company six other members of staff left the company as well, namely the chief executive, the chief operating officer and the commercial manager. The main reason for the sudden exodus was opposing views on how the company was heading under the leadership of James.
It was reported in a leading Sydney newspaper on April 02, 2011 that the airline would change its name by the end of the year, in order to create a brand more identifiable with its Australian roots. The name change was confirmed in August 2011, with the airline also planning on becoming a low-cost carrier and announcing service from Brisbane and Melbourne to Honolulu to begin in December 2011.
At 01:30 hours on February 17, 2012 the Strategic Group's directors decided that the Strategic group of companies including Air Australia, Strategic Engineering Australia, and Strategic Aviation, would be placed into voluntary administration. This was brought about because the fuel supplier refused to refuel an aircraft in Phuket, Thailand on February 16, 2012 due to mounting outstanding payments. The airlines' directors appointed KordaMentha as administrators.
Air Australia suspended all flights leaving approximately 4,000 passengers stranded in Denpasar (Indonesia), Phuket (Thailand) and Hawaii (USA) as well as domestically in Australia. These passengers were advised that they would have to make their own travel arrangements at their own expense.
KordaMentha found the airline owed creditors up to $AUD 90 million but had only $AUD 1 million in assets as much of its equipment was leased. Administrator Mark Korda said the airline was ‘not saleable’ and was likely to go into liquidation. The collapse put 300 employees out of work. On March 24, 2012 the creditors voted to place Air Australia into liquidation.
Strategic Airlines Luxembourg
The airline was created in July 2010 in Luxembourg as a subsidiary of the Australian airline Strategic Airlines, which was later rebranded as Air Australia on November 15, 2011.
Strategic Airlines Luxembourg commenced services in October 2010 with one Airbus A320 aircraft from its bases at Manchester, Birmingham and London Gatwick Airport. The airline increased its fleet to three Airbus A320s in 2011.
On February 17, 2012 Air Australia, its parent company, ceased operations. Strategic Airlines Luxembourg continued to operate as normal until Olympic Holidays, its only operating tour operator, ended its contract on October 03, 2012. Strategic Airlines Luxembourg entered administration on October 04, 2012.