Ansett Air Freight.

The in-depth histories of the individual aircraft that have been operated by Ansett Airlines of Australia Air Cargo / Ansett Air Freight.





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Ansett Air Freight Fleet:


- Boeing 707

- Boeing 727

- Boeing 757

- British Aerospace 146

- Lockheed 188AF Electra



Background Information.


Until 1980 air cargo / air freight within the Ansett Group was not a separate company, but was operated as part of the main Ansett airline, as ANSETT-ANA Air Cargo and later Ansett Airlines of Australia Air Cargo.

On November 30, 1971 a contract was signed with Lockheed for the conversion of Ansett’s original three Lockheed 188A Electras (VH-RMA / VH-RMB / VH-RMC) to freighters, at a cost of $1.9 million each. These conversions were  originally scheduled for May - September 1972. As a freighter these aircraft could carry up to 13 tonnes of freight, although volume limitations often restricted the actual tonnage of cargo uplifted. The first Electra, VH-RMC, departed Melbourne Essendon Airport on November 08, 1971 for the United States. The second aircraft, VH-RMA departed on March 06, 1972 and the last aircraft, VH-RMB flew out on June 17, 1972.

The first of these converted Electras, VH-RMC entered Ansett Airlines of Australia Air Cargo service on May 31, 1972. It was followed by its sister aircraft, VH-RMA, which entered service on August 03, 1972. The last of the converted Electras, VH-RMB, entered service with Ansett Airlines of Australia Air Cargo on October 19, 1972.

A fourth Lockheed 188AF Electra was acquired on August 23, 1975 and registered as VH-RMG. It had already been converted to freighter configuration by Lockheed prior to its purchase. Adding this additional Electra freighter allowed the Company to begin non-stop Melbourne - Brisbane and Sydney - Adelaide services.

During the 1979 / 1980 financial year Ansett Airlines of Australia Air Cargo carried 5.7% less freight (55.2 million tonne-kilometres) than the previous year, after withdrawing from dedicated air freighter operations north of Brisbane, due to continuing financial losses.

On July 01, 1980 Ansett Airlines of Australia Air Cargo was renamed Ansett Air Freight.

On January 11, 1982 the Lockheed 188AF Electra VH-RMC was the first aircraft rolled-out in the new Ansett Air Freight 'Southern Cross' livery.

The Boeing 727-277A VH-RMX commenced freighter operations with Ansett Air Freight on March 31, 1983.

On December 19, 1983 the Ansett Air Freight's Lockheed 188AF Electra VH-RMA operated the Cairns - Townsville - Brisbane - Melbourne service as AN401, marking the last Queensland Electra freighter service.

During 1983 Ansett’s Lockheed Electras notched up a quarter of a century of service with the Boeing 767s replacing them on the Melbourne to Sydney freight interchange run in the evenings.

January 15, 1985 marked the last scheduled Ansett Air Freight Bass Straight Lockheed Electra freighter service. The Melbourne - Launceston - Hobart - Melbourne route would now be flown using the Boeing 727.

The next day, January 16, 1984 the Ansett Air Freight Boeing 727-277AF VH-RMX recommenced freight operations, after its $1 million conversion to a full freighter configuration.  Initial Bass Straight operations were Melbourne - Launceston - Hobart - Melbourne twice-nightly for 4 nights per week and once-nightly for the 2 other nights, for a total of 10 services per week.

Ansett Air Freight's final Lockheed 188AF Electra freight service was flown on January 31 / February 01, 1984 when VH-RMC operated the overnight Cairns - Brisbane - Melbourne service. During 1984 Ansett officially launched the Ansett International Air Freight division.

On June 16, 1986 Ansett Air Freight commenced operating a trial air charter between Melbourne - Sydney - Brisbane for Australia Post, utilising two IAI Westwind 1124 Series 1 jets (VH-AJP, VH-AJQ) chartered from Pelair. The trial ceased in September 1986.
In June 1988 Ansett Air Freight ordered two British Aerospace BAe 146-200QT freighters, for delivery in May and June 1989.

During August 1988 Ansett Air Freight’s Boeing 727 VH-RMX became a celebrity, by distributing red noses for the Sudden Infant Death Syndrome throughout Australia.

On October 30, 1988 the ex-Transcorp Boeing 707-330C VH-HTC commenced operations for Ansett Air Freight in TNT colors.

During January 1989 Ansett Air Freight began using IPEC’s three Armstrong Whitworth AW-650 Argosy freighters on their east coast freighter services.

June 13, 1989 marked Ansett Air Freight’s first BAe 146-200QT freighter operation, when VH-JJY operated the Brisbane - Mackay - Townsville - Cairns service, replacing a Fokker F.27 Friendship. The second BAe 146-200QT freighter VH-JJZ entered Ansett Air Freight operations on the Melbourne - Launceston service on July 03, 1989.

On February 07, 1990  the Boeing 707-323C 3D-ASB, chartered from Air Swazi, began operating for Ansett Air Freight, for an unknown period.

On February 24, 1990 the Boeing 707-338C ST-ALL, chartered from Nile Safaris Aviation, began operating for Ansett Air Freight, for an unknown period.

On February 25, 1990 the Boeing 707-321C VR-HKL, chartered from Air Hong Kong, began operating for Ansett Air Freight, for an unknown period.

On December 20, 1990 the Boeing 707-330C VH-HTC was withdrawn from service by Ansett Air Freight.

On June 15, 1999 Ansett Air Freight became Ansett Australia Cargo, the road pick-up part of the business having been sold to TNT.

Black Friday! At 00:30 AEST on Friday September 14, 2001 all operations by Ansett Australia Cargo were suspended by Ansett’s administrators, PricewaterhouseCoopers. Limited operations recommenced on October 08, 2001 but these were short-lived. Late on March 04 / early March 05, 2002 Ansett Australia Cargo ceased operations.