Butler Air Transport

IATA Code: -

ICAO Code: -

Known As: Butler

Full Name: Butler Air Transport Ltd

Country: Australia

Call sign: Butler

Objects in Collection

Brief History

Arthur Butler had worked as a licenced engineer for LASCO/Australian Aerial Services, obtained a pilot’s licence & then a commercial pilot’s licence. He had designed & built the Butler BAT aircraft, flown a Comper Swift England to Australia in 1931 & operated barn-storming & charter services for a number of years; gaining a widespread, great reputation.

During April, 1934, Butler Air Transport Company was formed, as a partnership, by Cecil Arthur Butler & Rus Garling; having tendered, on 31 January, for the Charleville to Cootamundra section of the England to Australia Empire Airmail route (the Eastern Australia sectors of which comprised Darwin-Mt. Isa, Mt. Isa-Longreach, Longreach-Brisbane & Charleville-Cootamundra, with Cootamundra being the southern terminus for the Empire Air Route). Their tender was accepted on 19 April, with the awarded contract worth £31,277 over a 5-year period.

Arthur Butler wanted to call the new company Air Lines Limited, but was overruled by Rus Garling & his brother, P.S. Garling, who was Arthur Butler’s wife’s uncle & provided the last £9,000 needed to finance the new company.

Despite real problems raising the necessary capital, they were ready for business by 12 November.

On 10 December, Butler Air Transport Company began operations, on the Cootamundra-Charleville mail service, via Narromine & Bourke (a distance of 1006km), using 7-seat D.H.84 Dragons VH-URV & VH-URU, with the Company’s first two pilots being Arthur Butler & A.W.

Gregory & their two aircraft having a cruising speed of 240-256kph.  These services were designed to connect with QANTAS services to Singapore, with onward Imperial Airways connection to London. 

In 1938, Butler lost the contract, when QANTAS moved their terminal from Charleville to Sydney & began carrying the international airmail from India & Singapore through to Sydney. 

The 1st Cootamundra-Charleville service, via Narromine & Bourke, a distance of 1006km, was operated by VH-URV.  It carried over 1,200 lbs (544kg) of mail from Melbourne & Sydney, which had arrived the night before, by rail.

On 13 December, the first Charleville-Cootamundra service was operated; again by VH-URV.
Return services were operated twice-weekly, to meet QANTAS services.  VH-URU was impressed by the RAAF on 07 January, 1940 & VH-URV was sold in May 1949.

Services operated smoothly until February 1935, when in-the-shade temperatures began reaching 45 degrees, causing vapor-locks in the fuel system; resulting in many forced-landings.

That led to a redesigning of their D.H.84's fuel system by B.A.T.'s Chief Engineer Thomas Williams.  That fixed the problem.

On 17 April, B.A.T. carried its first two passengers, on their Cootamundra-Charleville service (at a cost of £8/10/- each). One of those passengers was Lady Mountbatten, who had just formally opened the passenger service.

In May, Avro Avian Mk. IIIA VH-UHY joined the fleet, as a backup aircraft for the two D.H.84 Dragons. It was sold in January, 1937.

In June, the 1st annual report for B.A.T. showed that, in their 1st 7 months of operation, they had flown over 112,000km, carried over 23 tons of mail & had received £3,563 in Commonwealth subsidies.

Operations continued to run smoothly for the first 6 months, with minimal mechanical trouble, except for the vapour locks at the beginning of the service. However, in the autumn, the days became shorter & it was necessary to depart from Cootamundra well over an hour before sunrise. There was a certain amount of apprehension that the D.H.84, with a full load, might not be able to maintain height on one engine & any engine trouble during the pre-dawn period might result in a disastrous situation.
There were also other hazards.  Fogs during winter were a nuisance, although the aircraft was often able to depart before the fog had formed properly. On those occasions, it was necessary to carry sufficient fuel to reach Tooraweenah, because fog might cover the Narromine area. Fog at Tooraweenah was a rarity.

During the early days of operations in 1934-1935, Butler Air Transport supplemented its airline revenue with charters & joy flights, using the D.H.84s all over western NSW.

Arthur Butler’s personal records show joy flights were carried out on a regular basis for £1-£2 a flight. Charter flights were carried out to such destinations as Adelaide in early 1935 for £44, Dubbo return for £13/6/-, Wagga Wagga for £4/10/- & Junee for £3.

In June, 1935, at the first annual report of Butler Air Transport was issued. It showed the following figures for the first seven months of operation:
•    The service had travelled over 112,000 km (70,000 miles).
•    Carried over 20.86 tonnes (23 tons) of mail.
•    B.A.T. had received a total of £3,563 in Commonwealth subsidies for the operation of the service.

In March 1936, Harry Frank 'Jimmy' Broadbent, holder of the England to Australia solo record, was appointed Chief Pilot; allowing Arthur Butler to spend more time as General Manager. From May, the growth in Empire Air Mails, led to the service being increased to three-times-per-week. The additional service enabled a more reliable allocation of passengers to the services, as the air mail could be spread across the increased services.

In January, 1937, Butler Air Transport sold Avro Avian Mk. IIIA VH-UHY.

From 01 May, B.A.T. changed its route structure on some of its services, operating twice-weekly Cootamundra-Narromine-Bourke-Cunnamulla-Charleville.

On 27 September, B.A.T. suffered its 1st accident, when VH-URV ending up on its nose, after a portside strut failed during take-off from Charleville, on a charter to Orange. There were no injuries & the aircraft was repaired at the local hangar.

On 25 July, 1938, Butler Air Transport announced that it would move its base from Cootamundra to Sydney.  That was done later in 1938.

On 05 August, Butler Air Transport began D.H.84 Sydney-Charleville-Sydney services, replacing the Charleville-Cootamundra-Charleville services, with rail connection to & from Sydney (after QANTAS had extended their service to Sydney & B.A.T. lost his government contract; with the Commonwealth also refusing Butler's request to be allowed to start a Cloncurry-Daly Waters service for the duration of his contract, but permitting Butler to transfer his terminus to Sydney). 

The Sydney-Charleville service initially operated twice-weekly Sydney-Cessnock-Narromine-Nyngan-Bourke-Cunnamulla-Charleville, but by November operated Sydney-Mendooran-Toorweenah-Coonamble-Bourke-Cunnamulla-Charleville - a 1,150km trip, taking some
6.5 hours.

Mondays – Sydney 07:30, Cunnamulla 15:39, Charleville 16:55.
Tuesdays – Charleville 06:00, Cunnamulla 07:15, Sydney 14:55.
Thursdays – Sydney 08:00, Cunnamulla 15:39, Charleville  16:55.
Fridays – Charleville 06:00, Cunnamulla 07:15, Sydney 15:25.

The new services still connected with QANTAS services at Charleville.  The returns from the service were insufficient to ensure continued operations & Arthur Butler approached the postal authorities, to seek publicity for the new mail services.  Whilst many stamps were sold, many were retained by collectors & revenue did not flow to B.A.T.

The new service was commenced with hopes that it would soon be possible to provide air services to Tibooburra & other places in the outback, even as far west as Maree.

From 10 November, B.A.T.'s Sydney-Cessnock-Narromine-Nyngan-Bourke-Cunnamulla-Charleville service was changed to Sydney-Mendooran-Tooraweenah-Coonamble-Bourke-Charleville; using D.H.84s.

On 31 July, 1939, B.A.T. added Walgett & commenced a three-times-per-week Sydney-Cessnock-Mendooran-Torraweenah-Coonamble-Walgett-Bourke-Cunnamulla-Charleville service.

In its first 5 years of operations, Butler Air Transport made 2,134 flights, for some 8,000 hours, carrying 2,200 passengers & 407,994 lbs. (185,064 kg) of mail.  Not a bad effort for an airline basically with two D.H.84s!!

The financial results for Butler Air Transport 1934-1940 were as follows:

Year                    Turnover (£)        Operating Profit/Loss (£)
1934-1935                4,176                                  494
1935-1936                8,800                               1,378
1936-1937              11,836                               2,855
1937-1938              12,051                               2,672
1938-1939              13,163                              ,   641
1939-1940              12,975                               2,724

On 7 January, 1940, D.H.84 VH-URU was impressed into the RAAF, as a navigational trainer & never returned to B.A.T., crashing at Cootamundra 11 November, 1940.

That left VH-URV to operate the Charleville services, which were reduced to twice-weekly.  Replacement Dragons were not available, because of the RAAF's requirements.

For the year ending 30 June, Butler Air Transport received an annual subsidy of £5,908, for its now twice-weekly Sydney-Charleville D.H.84 service.  However, B.A.T. was acutely short of funds, as the Commonwealth Government was extremely slow to pay for the 'at cost' payments for conversion work done on RAAF D.H.84 Dragon aircraft by B.A.T.

On 24 August, Adastra Airways, anxious to get out of airline operations, ceased passenger services Sydney-Moruya-Bega, as the Australian Commonwealth Government did not renew the contracts, but sold them to Butler Air Transport Company.

The Sydney to Charleville service had been operated with one D.H.84 aircraft since all surplus D.H.84 aircraft had been impressed by the Government shortly after war had been declared.

During October, Tugan LJW.7 Gannet VH-UVU entered service.  It had a less than brilliant operational record & was finally withdrawn-from-service on 17 July, 1943.

Also during October, C.A. Butler’s Butler ABA-2 Bat, VH-ARG, was registered to the Company.  However, it is not known if it ever operated any services for the airline. It was sold in 1946.

On 11 November, Butler Air Transport began a daily D.H.84 Sydney-Moruya-Bega mail service, replacing Adastra Airways.  Moruya was later omitted; with the non-stop Sydney-Bega service taking 2.5 hours.  Gannet VH-UVU was also used on this service.

During World War II, Butler Air Transport sub-contracted to make Tiger Moth rudders, tailplanes, ailerons, fins & elevators & to perform engine overhauls on RAAF Cheetah engines & Avro Ansons.  It later made ailerons, tailplanes & elevators for Australian-produced Mosquitos.  B.A.T.'s war work was done on an 'at cost' basis, as a matter of policy for the Company.

Luckily the Sydney-Bega-Sydney service continued to make money, as there was no direct rail service to compete & the restricted availability of petrol for road travel.

During March, 1941, G.A.L. Monospar ST-12 VH-UTH entered service, to temporarily replace the Gannet.  However, it was considered as being unsuitable for regular airline operations & was sold in March, 1942.

On 12 July, 1943, Tugan LJW.7 Gannet VH-UVU made yet another forced-landing & never re-entered airline service.

For several weeks after grounding the LJW7, Butler Air Transport ran all its air services with one D.H.84 Dragon aircraft.  Flying twice weekly between Sydney & Charleville, via Coonamble & the other points & several flights per week on the Bega service.  The Dragon was in the air for most of the daylight hours, until the Department of Civil Aviation was able to persuade the RAAF to release a Dragon for Butler Air Transport to use on its services.

On 30 July, D.H.84 VH-AAO joined the fleet, having been released by the RAAF, as a replacement for VH-UVU.  It was destroyed in a storm on 23 December, 1947.

On 03 May, 1944, Butler Air Transport began a weekly Sydney-Coonamble-Sydney service, using D.H.84s.

On 05 April, 1945, B.A.T. again increased its Sydney-Charleville-Sydney services from twice-weekly to 3-times-per-week
By July, Butler Air Transport included Dubbo & Cessnock in its network; using D.H.84s.
Towards the end of WWII, Butler considered, bur rejected, plans for the following air services:
- Sydney to Goondiwindi, via Orange, Dubbo, Walgett & Moree.
- Sydney to Goondiwindi, via Tamworth, Armidale & Inverell.
- Sydney to Birdsville, via Mudgee, Dubbo, Warren, Nyngan, Bourke, Hungerford & Arrabury.
- Moree to Birdsville, via St. George, Charleville, Jundah, Windorah & Bedourie.
- Parkes to Broken Hill, via Dubbo, Quanbone, Corindi, Bourke, Warramutti & White Cliffs.
- Kempsey to Maree, via Armidale, Moree, Walgett & Bourke.

The financial results for Butler Air Transport 1939-1945 were as follows:
Year                    Turnover (£)        Operating Profit/Loss (£)
1939-1940                12,975                               2,724
1940-1941                26,240                                  728
1941-1942                40,091                                  613
1942-1943                63,446                                  258
1943-1944                77,939                                  910
1944-1945                86,190                               1,460

By the end of WWII, Butler Air Transport had managed to do work on all manner of aircraft types for the RAAF, from making complete tail-units & ailerons for D.H. Tiger Moths to performing engine overhauls on RAAF Cheetah engines & Avro Anson’s.

Butler Air Transport had also become sub-contractors for the de Havilland Aircraft Company, where it was to make Tiger Moth rudders, tailplanes, ailerons, fins & elevators.  Later in the war, it had made ailerons, tailplanes & elevators for Australian-produced Mosquitos. 

The total Butler operation devoted to the war work was only small, compared to other organisations, & employed approximately 400 people at its peak.  But the operation was so efficiently run that it did its work more cheaply than most other sub-contractors. 

Tom Williams maintained a personal contact with every man & woman in the workshop & was often seen to help those at the bench, when required.  His motto was to use the advice of his workmen, a motto which richly repaid the airline.  As a result Butler Air Transport had no employee trouble throughout the war years.

Butler identified many routes, for Butler Air Transport to operate in the post-war period.  Some of the routes were eventually operated by the airline & included Evans Head, Moree, Narrabri, Bathurst, Parkes & Dubbo.  Some of the more interesting routes, which were not taken up, or for which licences were not issued, were:
- Sydney to Goondiwindi via Orange, Dubbo, Walgett & Moree.
- Sydney to Goondiwindi via Tamworth, Armidale & Inverell.
- Sydney to Birdsville stopping at Mudgee, Dubbo, Warren, Nyngan, Bourke, Hungerford & Arrabury.
- Moree to Birdsville via St George, Charleville, Jundah, Windorah & Bedourie.
- Parkes to Broken Hill stopping at Dubbo, Quanbone, Corindi, Bourke, Warramutti & White Cliffs.
- Kempsey to Maree stopping at Armidale, Moree, Walgett & Bourke.

Another pressing need was for the fleet re-equipment of the airline.  D.H. 84 aircraft were neither designed for the new services envisaged by the airline, nor would they be able to cope with the post-war traffic, which the airline expected to generate.  Therefore this requirement was becoming urgent.  After looking around the at all the available types of aircraft, Butler decided upon the DC-3/C-47 aircraft as being the best for the future growth. 

It had been proven in war as reliable &, since the end of the war, was in plentiful in supply.  At the end of WWII, the Federal Government gave all existing airlines in the Commonwealth permission to purchase surplus Douglas C-47s from the United States’ Government, provided that an undertaking was given that the aircraft would be sold to the Commonwealth Government, if, & when, required to do so.

In an effort to ensure an adequate capital base for the new aircraft, Arthur offered shares to all Butler Air Transport staff.   Some staff treated Arthurs approach with suspicion.  But many invested in the Company, for which they worked (by 1947 staff were to make up 60% of the company’s shareholders & that contributed to the fact that Butler had no industrial disputes).

It quickly became evident that the existing staff base of the airline lacked the capital to raise more than 60% of the money required.  When the share issue fell short of the necessary cash to make Butler Air Transport a viable airline in the post-war years, Arthur Butler offered Ivan Holyman a 50% partnership provided he, & his associates, guaranteed that they would not, at any time, attempt a takeover Butler Air Transport.  Ivan Holyman agreed to the condition & accepted the offer to invest in the partnership with non-ANA interests holding 50% of the share base & Bungana Investments (ANA’s investment arm) holding the remaining 50%. 

They both agreed to aid each other with equipment & staff, & refrain from competing with each other, unless there was mutual agreement between them.  Unfortunately, when the partnership agreement was about to be finalised, Ivan Holyman withdrew, because, on second thought, he considered it would be inexpedient to form such a partnership at that time.  Holyman forced Butler to look elsewhere for his capital.  However, A.N.A. did obtain a minor shareholding in the Company through the Holyman family & through its investment company Bungana investments.

On 01 February, 1946, D.H.84 VH-AEF joined the fleet.  It was sold in June, 1948.
During February, Butler Air Transport purchased three C-47s in Manila, for £6,000 each, including spares, a bargain even by today’s standards.  The aircraft were ferried from the Philippines to the airline’s main base at Mascot during April, July & November, 1946. 

Once the aircraft arrived at Mascot, they were converted to a DC-3 airline standard, with the Butler Air Transport-produced cream interiors progressively being fitted, at a cost of £10,000 each.  That interior configuration produced a DC-3, with a seating capacity for 24 passengers, an internal toilet & internal baggage compartments. 

The interiors & furnishings were done completely in the Butler Air Transport facilities at Mascot.  The job of this refurbishment was done so well that the airline won a contract from the DCA for the conversion of two C-47s as flying radio laboratories.  Without any experience in the operation of any aircraft larger than a Dragon, the airline had a lot to learn when they took on the Douglas aircraft. 

They had to find more pilots, recruit & train air hostesses & put the engineering staff through Douglas aircraft training courses.  That was achieved successfully, as the aircraft were put into service without any major complications.

On 21 March, 1946, Butler Air Transport Company became a public company & was formally registered as Butler Air Transport Pty. Ltd.  The change of organisational structure was to allow for an increase in shares, which were to be given to all the employees of the Company, who wished to take up ownership in the airline.

On 05 April, B.A.T. returned to 3-times-weekly services (from twice-weekly) on their Sydney-Charleville-Sydney route.

In April, Butler Air Transport’s first Douglas DC-3, VH-AOG, joined the fleet.  The aircraft was initially used for crew conversion training & ground crew familiarisation.  It was not until May that the airline was able to start a service to Dubbo with the converted Douglas C-47s.  VH-AOG crashed at Bourke on 15 December, 1955.

Initially only five airstrips in the planned B.A.T. network (Sydney, Bathurst, Coffs Harbour, Dubbo & Parkes). were suitable for DC-3 operations.

By June, Butler Air Transport operations included:
- Sydney-Bega           – - Weekdays (D.H.84s)
- Sydney Cessnock       - Twice daily on weekdays (initially using D.H.84s)
- Sydney-Charleville     - 3-times-per-week (D.H.84s).
- Sydney-Dubbo              (DC-3s & D.H.84s)

A licence to operate to Tamworth was granted.  However, Butler Air Transport did not commence that service, as the aerodrome then in use was considered by the DCA as unsafe for DC-3 operations.

In August, DC-3 services to Evans Head, via Coffs Harbour, began; initially daily except Thursdays & Sundays.  Services to/from Evans Head were retained until they were transferred to Casino in 1959, as it was closer to the commercial center of Lismore.

On 09 September, DC-3 services to Bathurst & Parkes began.

On 21 November, another D.H.84, VH-AVU, began operations for B.A.T.  Like VH-AAO, it was sold in June, 1948.

On 29 November, B.A.T.'s second DC-3, VH-AOI, joined the fleet; remaining with the Company beyond its name-change to Airlines of N.S.W.

All B.A.T.'s aircraft were, at that stage, based at Mascot, other than one D.H.84 each based at Bourke & Coonamble, for feeder services to Tooraweenah & Dubbo.

In late-1946, B.A.T. began preparations for a hangar at Bourke, in anticipation of the Commonwealth Government settling migrants there; thus greatly increasing potential traffic.

The introduction of DC-3 services to/from Dubbo greatly reduced the passenger numbers for nearby Tooraweenah & Coonamble.  Luckily freight to/from those centers was increasing to an extent that allowed B.A.T. not to reduce services.

In early-December, B.A.T. introduced a DC-3 service to Tooraweenah.  They established a feeder service radiating from Tooraweenah & covering Bourke, Coonamble, Brewarrina & Walgett.

DC-3 services operated on Mondays, Wednesdays & Fridays, supplemented by D.H.84, & later Anson, services, radiating from Tooraweenah.

That was very successful so far as traffic to & from Sydney was concerned.  For a while Tooraweenah became the busiest country airport in the Commonwealth, with three DC-3 services to & from Sydney per week & regular D.H.84 & Avro Anson services radiating from Tooraweenah to many other places in north-western NSW.

By early-1947, Butler Air Transport employed 196 people, including 16 pilots - six DC-3 Captains, seven DC-3 First-Officers (some also flew the D.H.84s) & three D.H.84 Dragon First-Officers, plus 10 air-hostesses.  14 pilots were based at Mascot, one at Bourke (D.H.84) & one at Coonamble (D.H.84).

Between January & June, Avro Anson VH-ARK was chartered by Butler Air Transport, to cover maintenance on B.A.T.'s D.H.84s.

By May, DC-3 services included:
- Sydney-Parkes (daily)
- Sydney-Bathurst (daily)
- Sydney-Nyngan-Bourke-Cunnamulla-Charleville (then B.A.T.’s longest run), Sydney-Dubbo (twice-weekly)
- Sydney-Coffs Harbour-Evans Head (daily)
- Sydney Tooraweenah (3 times weekly)

By this stage the airline was operating four D.H.84 Dragons & three of the newly converted DC-3 aircraft.  As well as operating its own scheduled & charter services, B.A.T. was operating charter services for A.N.A., with a daily service to Canberra & a four times weekly service from Sydney to Brisbane.

These charter flights operated with full Butler Air Transport crews, but used A.N.A. flight numbers & operated from the respective A.N.A. terminals.  The D.H.84 aircraft had been relegated to the feeder services, which emanated from Bourke to Brewarrina, Walgett & Coonamble to Tooraweenah’s 3-times weekly DC-3 service.  Arthur Butler often referred to these feeder services as ‘The Track’.  The services from Sydney to Charleville originally were provided with air hostesses all the way from Sydney, but this was stopped due to the fatigue caused on this eight & half hour service. 

Fortunately, Mrs Colette, the wife of the resident pilot at Bourke, liked the idea of being an air hostess & took over the Bourke to Charleville sector of the trip.  Henceforth the hostess from Sydney would get off in Bourke & rest until the aircraft returned. She would then continue back to Sydney.

During the financial year, ending 30 June, Butler Air Transport increased its route-mileage by 82% & had an average load factor of 70.9%.

Because of the uncertainties caused by the then Chifley Labor Federal Government's attempts to take over all airline services, finance was hard to obtain.  B.A.T. actively encouraged staff to invest in their company & during 1947, staff ownership reached 51%.

In June, 1947, DC-3 VH-AOH(1) was due to enter B.A.T. service, but crashed during a training/acceptance flight at Schofields, on 03 June; without ever carrying a paying passenger.

In July, DC-3, VH-AOH(2) , Butler Air Transport's third DC-3,  entered B.A.T. service; remaining with the Company beyond its name-change to Airlines of N.S.W.

In addition to its own DC-3 operations, B.A.T. was also operating charter services, using B.A.T. crews, on behalf of A.N.A., Sydney-Canberra & Sydney-Brisbane.

During July, B.A.T.’s last D.H.84, VH-AIA, entered service.  It was sold to QANTAS June 1948.

On 11 August, Butler Air Transport extended its Sydney-Cessnock service to Coffs Harbour.  Coffs Harbour was also served directly from Sydney.

During November, DC-3 VH-BDU, Butler Air Transport's forth DC-3, entered B.A.T. service; remaining with the Company beyond its name-change to Airlines of N.S.W.

During 1947, Butler Air Transport acquired Truth & Sportsman’s 50% of the shares of Aircrafts Pty. Ltd., after Aircrafts' Ron Adair, in severe financial difficulties, had asked Arthur Butler for assistance.  By year’s end B.A.T. held 93% of Aircrafts Pty. Ltd.'s shares; with the remainder held by Bungana Investments.

1947 had been a good one for Butler Air Transport.  Route mileage was increased by 82%, load factor was at a healthy 70.9% during the financial year ending 30 June, 1947 (compared with 63.7% for A.N.A., 61.5% for TAA & 51.9% for Ansett Airways, for the same period). 

But the State Government still held in abeyance the issue of licences for seventeen new services & no finality could be reached on those.  The issue of the route licences was the direct result of the Commonwealth government trying to exert control over the states intrastate services.  The lack of certainty of the route licences created problems for the airline, as investment & finance was harder to obtain without a guarantee of its routes. 

Butler encouraged employee ownership of the airline & in 1947 they owned a total of 51% of the Company.

In February, 1948, the NSW State Government, frustrated at the lack of policy decisions on intrastate air services from the Chifley Federal Government, promulgated licences for new intrastate air services, including approval for various services sought by Butler.  However, fuel rationing delayed the start of these services until the first week in-July.

In March, Wings magazine described Butler Air Transport as being "the biggest & most progressive intrastate airline operator in Australia". Butler was flying 9 routes, to 15 country centers; using DC-3, Avro Anson & D.H.84 aircraft.

During April-May, DC-3 VH-IND was operated by B.A.T.  It went to A.N.A. in May, but returned to B.A.T. in October, 1957, serving until after the name-change to Airlines of N.S.W.

On 17 May, New England Airways’ route licences & some aircraft were purchased by Butler Air Transport.  Butler took over only their Sydney-Nabiac & Sydney-Kempsey services.
B.A.T. acquired the following ex-N.E.A. Avro Ansons - VH-AKU (sold October, 1951), VH-ARL (sold 30 June, 1950), VH-AVS (sold in September, 1951), VH-BFI (sold in August, 1950) & VH-BFY (sold to Aircrafts Pty. Ltd. in August, 1948).

During June, Butler sold D.H.84s VH-AEF, VH-AIA & VH-AVU.

On 26 June, the Federal Government finally approved 7 new air services for B.A.T., with the proviso that B.A.T. would not require more fuel, in an era of fuel rationing.  The new routes were:
- Tooraweenah-Narrabri-Moree-Goondiwindi (3 times-per-week), which began on 05 July.
- Tooraweenah-St. George-Goondiwindi, which began on 05 July.
- Walgett-St. George (twice-weekly), which also started on 05 July.
- Bourke-Wilcannia (weekly), which started on 08 July.
- Bourke-Thargomindah (weekly), which also began on 08 July.
- Extending the Tooraweenah-Coonamble service to Walgett, which began on 14 July.
- Bourke-Cobar-Nyngan (twice-weekly), which began 29 May, 1949.

As a result of these new services the airline was now operating to 21 destinations throughout NSW & southern Queensland.  It was the largest intrastate airline operator in Australia, in both passenger numbers & by fleet size. It was operating a fleet of 14 aircraft, comprising of 4 DC-3s, 6 Avro Ansons & 4 D.H.84 Dragons.

Also in June 1948 Butler Air Transport became the first airline in NSW to employ a woman in the role of an air radio operator.  Miss Vivienne Greene was a 24-year-old Butler air hostess. Miss Greene had been with the airline for two years.  By the time she became a radio operator with the airline she had flown over 400,000 miles (643,737km) as a hostess.

In the year ending 30 June, 1948, the financial results for the combined Butler Air Transport/Queensland Airlines operations showed a net profit of £13,381, paying a 10% dividend.  It had carried 72,749 passengers.  That represented an increase of over 150% over the previous year - a great effort, considering fuel-rationing & other operational restrictions.

On 05 July, 1948, B.A.T. began Tooraweenah-St. George-Goondiwindi, Tooraweenah-Narrabri-Moree-Goondiwindi (3 times-per-week) & Walgett-St. George (twice-weekly) service.

On 08 July B.A.T. began weekly Bourke-Wilcannia & Bourke-Thargomindah services.  The services ceased 19 May, 1949.

On 14 July, B.A.T.’s Tooraweenah-Coonamble service was extended to Walgett.

Butler Air Transport was now operating to 21 destinations throughout New South Wales & Southern Queensland, with 4 DC-3s, 5 Avro Ansons & 4 D.H.84 Dragons.

During August, Avro Anson VH-BLL joined the fleet; replacing VH-BFY, which was transferred to Aircrafts Pty. Ltd.  It was sold to Patair on 19 October, 1950.

During September 1948, amid renewed attempts by the Chifley Government to impose airline fuel-rationing & to take control of intrastate air services, Bungana Investments Pty. Ltd. made a cash offer of £250,000 for Butler Air Transport, as a going concern.  Although considered generous, the offer was rejected, but Bungana & the Holyman family purchased shares on the open market; eventually owning 51% of the shares, but not the majority of voting shares, because of B.A.T.'s sliding voting rights scale.

On 15 December, DC-3 VH-INA joined the fleet.  It became VH-INI on 02 February, 1949.  It later served with Airlines of N.S.W. & crashed on 12 December, 1960.

On 19 May, 1949, B.A.T.’s Bourke-Thargomindah service ceased, because of B.A.T.'s ongoing problems with lack of fuel, due to fuel-rationing.

On 29 May, B.A.T. commenced Sydney-Nyngan services.

During May, B.A.T.’s last D.H.84, VH-URV, was sold to QANTAS.

During June, DC-3 VH-BNH joined the B.A.T. fleet.  It was sold on 31 October, 1956.

On 27 June, B.A.T. commenced Sydney-Narrabri direct services, using DC-3s, replacing a DC-3 service Sydney-Tooraweenah, connecting with an Anson.

In the year ending 30 June, the financial results for the combined Butler Air Transport/Queensland Airlines operations showed a net profit of £32,236, paying a 10% dividend.

On 01 July, B.A.T.'s subsidiary, Queensland Airlines commenced Sydney-Coffs Harbour-Casino-Brisbane services, in co-operation with Butler Air Transport; with the 1st service operated by B.A.T. DC-3 VH-BNH.  At a ceremony attended by over 300 people, Arthur Butler promised to begin Sydney-Casino services as soon as the strip was suitable for regular DC-3 services.

On 01 July, B.A.T. increased its Sydney-Evans Head services to daily.

In early-December, Arthur Butler, recognising that his unpressurised Ansons & DC-3s would not satisfy many of his passengers indefinitely, visited the U.K., to examine future replacement aircraft, including the Ambassador & the Hermes.  He placed an order for 3 new Airspeed AS.57 Ambassadors, which were never delivered, as Airspeed was taken over by de Havilland in early-1950 & de Havilland cancelled all Ambassador orders except those placed by British European Airways (BEA), due to lack of production facilities for both the Ambassador & their new de Havilland Comet.

During 1949, Butler Air Transport carried 103,000 passengers.
At some stage, perhaps during 1949, Butler Air Transport operated DC-3 VH-INN for short period(s).

By 01 January, 1950, B.A.T.'s Sydney-Casino services had been reduced to three-times-weekly, due to poor demand.

By the start of 1950, B.A.T. served 25 destinations, with a fleet of five DC-3s & four Avro Ansons.

Although B.A.T. received no Government subsidy for transporting mail, carrying it on a pound-per-mile basis, it continued to expand its services to remote rural centers, such as Goodooga & Thargomindah. Although uneconomic, they were considered as essential services & were subsidised by the Company's profitable routes.

During February, B.A.T. introduced its 1st D.H.89 Rapide, VH-UVT.  It was sold to Connellan Airways in February, 1953.

In March D.H.89 VH-UUO, the airline’s 2nd Rapide, joined VH-UVT.  It crashed at Tooraweenah on 23 May, 1952.

On 02 May, DC-3 VH-INF, the airline’s 6th, entered B.A.T. service.  It was reregistered VH-AKR in August 1950 & was sold to Mandated Airlines in June, 1957.

On 27 June, the DCA approved a licence for B.A.T. to operate Sydney-Broken Hill services.  B.A.T. had been operating charters to Broken Hill, carrying Sunday newspapers.

B.A.T. initially turned the Sunday charters into scheduled passenger services & added additional services, as demand warranted; initially using DC-3s, at a single fare of £9/10/-.

The aircraft was scheduled to depart Broken Hill at 06:30, arriving in Sydney at 12:50, via Parkes.

During June, Avro Anson VH-ARL was sold.
In the year ending 30 June, the financial results for the combined Butler Air Transport/Queensland Airlines operations showed a net profit of £27,442, paying a 10% dividend.

During August, Avro Anson VH-BFI was sold.

On 07 September, B.A.T. introduced the ex-Queensland Airlines Avro Anson VH-BAB to its fleet - the last Anson to be added.  It crashed near Newcastle on 14 July, 1951.

During October, Anson VH-BLL was sold; leaving only VH-AVS & VH-AKU, which were sold the following September & October, respectively.

On 03 November, Queensland Airlines handed over its Brisbane-Coffs Harbour services to its parent company, Butler Air Transport.

During 1950, Butler Air Transport considered a DC-3 service Brisbane-Melbourne, but did not proceed with the idea.  At that time, all Brisbane-Melbourne-Brisbane passengers travelled via Sydney.

During 1950, B.A.T. began DC-3 services to Cobar & Wilcannia.

Although in 1950 Butler Air Transport received no Government subsidy for transporting mail, which was carried on a pound per mile basis, it continued to expand its services to remote rural areas such as Goodooga & Thargomindah.  All the services to isolated areas were uneconomic, but were an essential service to the communities the airline was serving.  They were operated at a loss of approximately £25,000 per annum; a loss covered by the profits from other services & routes operated by the Company. 

This method of operation had been one of Arthur’s founding principles, that those people in the remote areas would still receive air services, as long as the profitable services were enough to cover their operation.  The airline was unique in Australia, as Butler Air Transport did this without subsidy.  ANA, TAA & Ansett were all receiving subsidies for their remote, or developmental, air services.

On 19 January, 1951, B.A.T. began services to Cowra, initially on a 3-times-per-week charter basis, due to the State Government failing to issue a license.  It proved uneconomic for B.A.T. & they made arrangements for South Coast Airways to operate on their behalf from January 1952.

In the 1950-51 financial year ending 30 June, the results for the combined Butler Air Transport/Queensland Airlines operations showed a net profit of £36,589, paying a 15% dividend.

1951-52 were horrendous years for rural N.S.W., with severe floods being followed by severe bush-fires,  B.A.T.’s traffic decreased by some 25% compared with the previous year, whilst rising costs left B.A.T, in a precarious financial position, despite great economies made by its staff.  Arthur Butler reluctantly accepted a £23,000 annual subsidy from the DCA – the 1st time he had accepted a Government subsidy.  When that subsidy is taken into account, the airline actually lost money on its operations.

B.A.T. was flying over 16,000 hours per year, carrying 4,500 lbs (2,041kg) of mail, 2 million lbs (907,185 kg) of freight & over 100,000 passengers per year on a network covering 1.5 million miles (2.41 million km); with a staff of some 200, including 32 pilots & 15 air-hostesses.

Year                                      Turnover (£)        Operating Profit/Loss (£)
1945-1946 (7 months)                42,643                               2,177
1945-1946 (5 months)                20,468                                 -580
1946-1947                                223,824                              26,327
1947-1948                                325,737                              23,628
1948-1949                                341,380                              32,906
1949-1950                                457,000                              39,356
1950-1951                                567,867                              63,088

On 01 July, Butler Air Transport began a Sydney-Coffs Harbour-Coolangatta DC-3 service.  Not long after B.A.T. commenced those services, Ansett Airways began flying its own non-stop Convair CV-340 aircraft on the route.  That fast pressurised aircraft made the Butler DC-3 service very unattractive to customers with its slower aircraft & also the Butler service was not non-stop.  That decision by Ansett to compete on the Coolangatta route would have far-reaching effects to Butler Air Transport in the years ahead.

On 14 July, Avro Anson VH-BAB crashed at Swansea, near Newcastle, after both engines failed on a flight from Nabiac.  There were no injuries.

By this time Butler Air Transport was operating a fleet of six DC-3 aircraft supplemented by a fleet of Avro Ansons, for its smaller feeder operations & lesser patronised services.

The airline needed a smaller aircraft to operate on the less well patronised routes, which were unsuitable for the economic operation of the DC-3 aircraft.  To add to this situation, some of the airstrips that Butler Air Transport was now operating out of were unsuitable for the long-term operation of the larger DC-3.  The airline began its search for a new aircraft, which could replace the Anson aircraft.

During September, Avro Anson VH-AVS was sold.

During October, B.A.T.’s last Avro Anson, VH-AKU, was sold.

On 06 November, Q.A.L. & B.A.T. began combined services Brisbane-Toowoomba-Sydney, with the initial service operated by B.A.T.’s DC-3 VH-BNH.  They were technically Q.A.L. flights, but were an early example to ‘code-sharing’, as B.A.T. also showed them in its timetables & route-map.

On 19 January, 1952, B.A.T. began Sydney-Forster services; using the Wallis Island strip at Forster, constructed & paid for by B.A.T.

During January, B.A.T. made arrangements for South Coast Airways to operate their Sydney-Cowra-Sydney services on their behalf.

On 21 April, Butler Air Transport began Sydney-Cootamundra-Sydney services.

On 23 May, D.H.89 VH-UUO crashed in the Warrumbungle Ranges, near Tooraweenah, whilst on a scheduled service between Baradine & Tooraweenah.  There were only minor injuries.

The years 1951 & 1952 covered one of the most critical periods in Butler Air Transport’s history.  Most of the rural communities it served had suffered severely from floods, which covered a vast area linking the Bogan, Macquarie, Castlereagh & Darling Rivers & their tributaries.  The central & western parts of New South Wale started to resemble an inland sea, extending north beyond the Queensland border. 

This state of affairs caused the people in these areas to suffer severe losses of stock & crops.  Butler Air Transport suffered as much as anyone, because so many aerodromes were unserviceable for considerable periods of time, due to the flood waters.  That reduced flying undertaken by the airline; considerably dropping revenue accordingly.  To compound matters more, a few months later, wide-spread fires, brought about by the lush undergrowth from the floods, caused another serious setback to the areas Butler Air Transport served, causing a decrease in traffic in the order of 25%, compared with the same period of the previous financial year. 

Rising costs added to the airline’s troubles, as the airline’s economic position deteriorated rapidly; a trend which soon placed the Company in financial jeopardy.  Air route charges were first imposed by the Commonwealth Government back in 1948.  In some cases these charges were most unfair to some of the smaller airlines because of their disparity.  For example: the charge to fly an aircraft from Sydney to Tooraweenah, a route with no navigational facilities & to an aerodrome, which had been established without Government expense, was more per mile than the charge to fly the same aircraft between Sydney & Brisbane, along a route equipped with the latest navigational aids. 

Protests to the Director-General of Civil Aviation, which had been constantly made by Butler over the years, brought a reduction in these charges at a time when Butler Air Transport was sorely in need.  In desperation Arthur Butler appealed to the staff for their aid to economise & for ideas to stave off the threatening financial disaster. 

During the six months which followed it became fashionable for Butler Air Transport staff to be thrifty & remarkable savings resulted from these activities.  Labor costs were reduced by 27% because less overtime was worked & absenteeism became non-existent.  Overhead costs were reduced by 32% & administration costs by 18%.  But the greatest decrease was in travelling expenses. 

These economies were affected without any deterioration of Butler Air Transport’s services to the public & the communities it served.  After Mr. A.J.S. Scott, the Director of Finance in the Department of Civil Aviation, had investigated Butler Air Transport’s financial affairs, the airline was offered a subsidy of £23,000 per annum.

In the year ending 30 June, the financial results for the combined Butler Air Transport/Queensland Airlines operations showed a net profit of £17,540; paying a 10% dividend.

When the £23,000 subsidy was taken into account, the airline’s operations were actually running at loss of some £6,000 for the year.  The directors & Arthur Butler thought it still prudent to pay a dividend to the shareholders to encourage a continuation of staff ownership.
On 16 October, Butler Air Transport Pty. Ltd. was renamed Butler Air Transport Ltd.  However, it does not appear to have been registered as such until 15 August, 1956.

After an investigation of suitable Avro Anson replacements, B.A.T. decided on the D.H.114 Heron & ordered two, at a cost of £60,000 each - their most expensive aircraft purchase to date.

On 04 November, B.A.T. introduced its 1st 14-passenger D.H.114 Heron, VH-AHB ‘RMA Warrawee’, Sydney-Temora, carrying a full load.  B.A.T.’s Herons featured a pilot & a radio operator, to keep costs down.  The Heron lacked cargo capacity, which proved a major problem in the B.A.T. operation, where freight created much-needed revenue.

The initial weekly service was soon extended to twice-weekly & to three times weekly by December.

D.H.114 Heron VH-ARB, ‘RMA Warrawa’ followed on 18 December, 1953.

Despite being popular with crews & passengers, the Herons lacked the required payload capacity & were not particularly successful in B.A.T.-type operations.  Both aircraft were sold in June, 1956.  During their time with B.A.T. the Herons served Baradine, Bourke, Brewarrina, Carinda, Casino, Collarenebri, Coolah, Coonamble, Cootamundra, Dubbo, Evans Head, Forster, Goodooga, Hillston, Kempsey, Lake Cargelligo, Moruya, Mungindi, Narrandera, Parkes, St. George, Sydney, Taree, Temora, Tooraweenah, Wagga Wagga, Walgett & Warren.

On 19 November, B.A.T. commenced Sydney-Collarenebri-Mungindi-St. George services, using DC-3s.

On 14 February 1953, D.H.89 VH-UVT was sold to Connellan Airways.

On 15 February, B.A.T. returned to the Sydney-Parkes route; the route having been operated by A.N.A. for some 18 months, Wednesdays, Fridays & Sundays, on behalf of B.A.T.

By May, the airline’s financial problems, which had beset the airline for the past 12-18 months were behind them & they requested that the subsidy being paid by the DCA be discontinued.

The increase in freight continued.  But passenger traffic was far from satisfactory, one of the most important reasons being the unreliability of Butler Air Transport’s services to those centers with aerodromes, which became unserviceable after rain, or fire.  For example, a few points of rain at Moree would turn the black soil surface of its aerodrome into a boggy morass; making a safe landing impossible. 

The construction of a sealed runway at Moree was an urgent necessity, because of the number of partially-incapacitated people being carried to this place for treatment of rheumatic & arthritic ailments.  The airline therefore decided to donate an amount of money, equivalent to the subsidy it had received from the Federal Government, to the Moree Municipal Council, for the construction of an all-weather strip on the Moree aerodrome. 

As a result the local community received a much-needed infrastructure project & the airline was then able to provide a regular service, which provided regular revenue for the airline - a win for all the parties involved.  Despite the heavy losses during the first half of the year, the balance sheet for 1953 was a healthy one, although the result did not look so good when the refund of some air route fees charged prior to 1952 were taken into account. 

But for that, & the savings affected by the staff during the year, Butler Air Transport couldn’t have contributed towards the runway at Moree, or have paid a dividend.

On 30 June, Butler Air Transport began Sydney-Kempsey-Casino services, 3-days-per-week, using D.H.114 Herons.  That was the first scheduled air service to Kempsey since the airport had opened a month earlier.  After good loadings, services became daily a few months later.

The financial results for the year ending 30 June showed a profit of £63,008 for the combined Butler Air Transport/Queensland Airlines operations (with $2,754 coming from Q.A.L), in its 1st year of being quoted on the Sydney Stock Exchange.  The result represented a nearly 40% return on the share capital at the time of the release of the results. 

A further £35,706 was added, as a result of a route charges rebate, giving a total net profit of £99,000; paying a dividend of 10%.  B.A.T. had carried 130,000 passengers, 2.5 million pounds (1.1339 million kg) of freight & 22,600 lbs (10,251 kg) of mail, over a network of some 2 million miles (3,218,000km), with 6 DC-3s & two D.H.114 Herons.

On the 30 August, Butler Air Transport commenced services to Warren & Carinda, in western NSW.  The services were operated by the new Heron aircraft, with Warren scheduled to receive two services per week & Carinda one service per week.

During October, B.A.T. began a service from Sydney to Narrandera, via Wagga Wagga.  From 28 March, 1954, Narrandera was again served via Temora.

On 18 December, D.H.114 Heron VH-ARB, ‘RMA Warrawa‘, joined VH-AHB, as B.A.T.’s 2nd D.H.114 Heron, allowing B.A.T. to expand its Heron services to destinations throughout N.S.W. & southern Queensland, linking to Sydney via the DC-3 trunk services.

The Butler Heron fleet were operating from Sydney right across the airlines network from Bourke to Wagga Wagga, to Moruya & Casino.  The Herons were being used to consolidate passengers at larger airports for on carriage to & from Sydney in DC-3 aircraft.  Passengers from Sydney were flown to the larger regional airfields in NSW in DC-3 equipment where they were met by the Heron aircraft & flown from there to the smaller airfields in the more remote areas of the state. This was a revolutionary use of aircraft in a way which best fit their capabilities to serve smaller communities. 

That was the first time this type of operation had been done in Australia to the scale that Butler was undertaking.  The Herons would make overnight stops in both Bourke & Dubbo. A typical flight started from Mascot at about 07:00 & landed in Coonamble, Walgett, Warren & Dubbo.  After an overnight stop in Dubbo, the Heron would then fly onto Parkes & Wagga Wagga, where passengers were transferred to an A.N.A. DC-3 aircraft & the Heron would return to Dubbo again via Parkes. 

The aircraft would then fly onto Warren, Coonamble & Tooraweenah.  A Butler DC-3 would be waiting at Tooraweenah, to take on any passengers travelling onto Sydney.  A new Heron crew, which had been flown to Tooraweenah on the DC-3, would take over the Heron & then fly it to Coonamble, Walgett, Brewarrina & Sydney.  The DC-3 flight between Sydney & Tooraweenah operated 5 days per week.

On 11March, 1954, B.A.T. began a new service between Sydney & Taree.  That service was to be initially operated by the Heron aircraft, as well & operated on Thursdays & Saturdays.  The service was scheduled to leave Sydney at 07:25, arriving into Taree at 08:25.  The return service would leave Taree at 08:40, & arrive back into Sydney at 09:40.

On 28 March, Butler Air Transport began Sydney-Hillston & Sydney-Temora-Narrandera services; using D.H. 114 Herons.

It was evident to Butler Air Transport management that they would be forced to relinquish the services to Coolangatta & the Casino/Lismore area, because of the drastic decline in passenger traffic, which preferred to go by car to Coolangatta & fly to Sydney in Ansett Airways’ new pressurised Convair aircraft. 

The position was accentuated when Ansett instituted a free taxi service from those areas, to feed passengers into Coolangatta.  The pressure was heavy upon Butler Air Transport.  But Australia was a free country & it was natural for travellers to patronise the best service.  Ansett was offering a better service, in speed & comfort, than Butler Air Transport could with its old DC-3 aircraft.  It was up to Butler Air Transport to match, & if possible, exceed the service being offered by its rival. 

Butler Air Transport managed to keep the Northern Rivers & Coolangatta services operating by increasing freight.  But their days were numbered, unless B.A.T. purchased flying equipment equal to, or better than, that of its competitor.

The Butler Board of Directors decided that Arthur Butler should go abroad, to obtain aircraft suitable for winning back the traffic the airline had lost on the Coolangatta route.  He immediately set off for the U.K.  On arrival in England, he found there would be a lapse of eighteen months before Butler Air Transport could obtain delivery of any Viscounts. 

His friend Sir Thomas White, the Australian High Commissioner in London, suggested that Arthur should hire an Airspeed Ambassador aircraft during the intervening period.  He wrote a letter to Mr Peter Masefield, who was Chief Executive of British European Airways, supporting this suggestion. 

Robert Handasyde, Sales Director of Vickers, took Arthur out to Ruslip, to see Mr. Masefield.  Mr Masefield was in no mood to help, having just been compelled by the British Government to hand over three new Viscounts to Capital Airlines, in the USA.  But he was prepared to hire a machine from November 1954 until February 1955. That would have been feasible, despite the high cost, had Butler Air Transport been able to obtain its Viscounts in February. 

Learning that it might be possible to charter one of the two Ambassador aircraft belonging to the British Government, being used for research work at Bristol, Butler hastened there, only to find that one of the Ambassadors had been damaged & that Rolls Royce & Napier required the other aircraft for urgent experimental work. 

The Department of Supply therefore refused to allow the aircraft to leave the U.K.  During Arthur Butler’s visit to Bristol, Robert Handasyde persuaded the purchaser of two Viscounts to be delivered in August 1955, to postpone their delivery date, so that Arthur could obtain delivery within 13 months, instead of 18 months.  But Butler Air Transport had to take both machines.  The only snag, so far as Arthur Butler was concerned, was the reaction of the Butler Board, although this did not worry him unduly, as B.A.T. really needed two Viscounts &, even if the Board objected, Arthur was sure that A.N.A. by then would have realised that it was essential for them to have a fleet of Viscounts, to compete with TAA. 

In fact he was so sure of that that Arthur gave Vickers a letter of intent for another four Viscounts. Arthur made one proviso; that he should be allowed to fly a Viscount including an unassisted take-off & landing, before signing the contract.  Robert Handasyde arranged to meet him at Hurn on the following day &, after an inspection of the Viscount assembly line, Butler was to fly a Viscount from Hurn to Wisley, near Brooklands.

Therefore on 18 June, Butler Air Transport ordered the two Vickers Viscount 747s, at a cost of £360,000 each, with options on another four.

Then, on 19 October, 1954, Butler Air Transport announced the issue of 50,000 ordinary shares at £1 each.  The investment funds were required to finance the 2 newly-ordered Viscount 747s.  Now that Butler Air Transport would soon be in a position to compete on equitable terms, Arthur Butler approached Ansett, with a view to rationalising those services, which were in direct competition. 

Reg Ansett, whose airline was obtaining a much greater share of the Sydney to Coolangatta traffic & enough patronage from Grafton & Coffs Harbour to jeopardise Butler services to the Northern Rivers, made it quite plain that he had no intention of co-operating with anyone.  The cheap fare Ansett charged on the Sydney, Brisbane & Melbourne route must have worried Ivan Holyman, because A.N.A. aircraft were not much, if any, better than the Convairs Ansett was operating. 

The effect of cheap fares upon TAA was not so great, because their Viscounts had greater passenger appeal than the piston engine types then in operation with ANA, Ansett & Butler Air Transport.  Arthur Butler’s efforts to persuade Ivan Holyman to co-operate with Butler Air Transport, by offering a combined fare between Melbourne & Coolangatta was unsuccessful. 

Nevertheless, Butler’s Coolangatta traffic remained static enough during 1954 to enable Butler Air Transport to continue operations, without too great a financial loss on the route, & the company was able to end the year on the right side of the ledger, thanks to the buoyancy of its rural services.

At the 9th annual general meeting of Butler Air Transport, held in October 1954, Arthur made the following statement on the Company’s 20 years of operation.

“Twenty years have passed since this organisation commenced its first air service between Cootamundra & Charleville & each year it has progressed – until today it is operating more than 20 services.  Passengers carried have increased from 100 in 1934 to 150,000 in 1954 & freight from 133lbs to 4,270,000lbs.  The total payload capacity of the D.H.84 aircraft amounted to 2400lbs. Our present fleet has a payload capacity of 34,000lbs.  The steady advances which has taken place in the past should continue for many years to come. It is the policy of your board to keep abreast of progress, as exemplified by the purchase of the D.H.114 type ‘Heron’ to replace the D.H.89 aircraft used on the rural services.  The boards new plans to replace the Douglas DC-3 machines operated on our main routes by the Vickers ‘Viscount’ – the most advanced aircraft of its type in the world. Two Viscounts are on order & the first of these machines, which are pressurised & cruise at 320 miles per hour, will be delivered in 1955”.

With the purchase of the Viscount, Butler Air Transport was to be only the second airline in Australia, after TAA, to operate turbine-powered aircraft & they were to be the first to operate them on intrastate services. Later Arthur Butler was to write in his memoirs:

“Unknowingly I signed the death warrant of Butler Air Transport Limited when I signed the contract for the purchase of two Viscounts later that day, for I had started a train of events which led eventually to the demise of our company.”

On 07 October, Butler Air Transport began D.H.114 Heron services Sydney-Coolah.

On 19 October, Butler Air Transport announced the issue of 50,000 ordinary shares, at £1 each, to help cover the purchase of its two Viscount 747s.

B.A.T.’s results for Financial Years 1950-1955 were as follows:
Year                                      Turnover (£)        Operating Profit/Loss (£)
1950-1951                                567,867                              63,088
1951-1952                                607,201                              25,262
1952-1953                                666,779                              63,008
1953-1954                                850,798                              74,176
1954-1955                                962,350                              54,281

On 18 February 1955, the B.A.T. Board presented their plans for the introduction of the 2 Viscount 747s; then estimated to cost a total of £815720, including taxes, spares, delivery, crew training, furnishings & radios & an expected per hour operating cost of £55/06/04. 

That compared, in the Board’s submission, to capital costs of £612,088 & £762,496 & per hour operating costs of £77/00/03 & £93/17/10 for the Fokker F.27 Mk. 100 & the Convair CV-340, respectively.  B.A.T. considered that the high purchase price of the Viscount 700 would be more than offset by its lower operating costs.

The plans involved Viscount operations covering Sydney-Coolangatta (twice-weekly), Sydney-Evans Head (4-times-per-week), Sydney-Coffs Harbour (4-times-per-week), Sydney-Bourke (twice-weekly), Sydney-Dubbo (9-times-per-week) & Sydney-Parkes (7-times-per-week), plus a Sydney-Evans Head-Coolangatta-Evans Head-Sydney service (3-times-weekly).

By April 1955, passenger traffic on Butler’s Coolangatta service had reached an all-time low.  Only those, who were unable to obtain a seat on the pressurised Convairs, travelled in Butler Air Transport’s slow DC-3 aircraft.  By then, Ansett was operating 15 services each way per week between Sydney & Coolangatta & Butler Air Transport had been compelled by economic necessity to reduce its service to five flights per week. 

The free taxi services radiating from Coolangatta, which Reg Ansett introduced when he started services, had now become an economic burden to him.  Ansett therefore proposed that these services should be discontinued by both companies, a proposal Butler rejected because, in its opinion, those services had now become an essential amenity.  Competition was quite ruthless during the months that followed & the losses on Butler Air Transport’s coastal services continued to increase until, at the end of June, they amounting to £30,000 for the past financial year.  Losses on these services had been counterbalanced by revenue from other sources, but that could not be maintained for much longer.

Despite all these troubles, the airline was still showing solid traffic numbers, with 41950 passengers being carried in the March quarter alone.

B.A.T. approached the DCA, to ask them to upgrade Evans Head to Viscount standard.  The DCA refused, as it lacked the considerable funds required to do so.  Arthur Butler sought alternative sectors for utilising the Viscounts, including Sydney-Melbourne & return via Wagga Wagga.  Despite discussions with A.N.A. & the DCA, these were not forthcoming. 

Arthur Butler even approached British European Airways, to ask them if they would swap for two of their Airspeed AS.57 Ambassadors; again without success.  Arthur Butler also approached Ivan Holyman, suggesting that A.N.A. take over B.A.T.’s options on 4 Viscount 700s & operate his existing Viscounts Melbourne-Sydney-Coolangatta, on Butler’s behalf. 

Despite initially promising talks, which also came to nought, after TAA objected strongly to the idea of B.A.T.’s Viscounts competing with theirs into/out of Coolangatta, Ivan Holyman suggested that Butler sell their two Viscounts.  Faced with a situation where most of its airfields would not support Viscounts & the DCA refusing to upgrade them, B.A.T. proceeded with plans to extend their Sydney-Wagga Wagga service to Melbourne. 

When Arthur Butler made known Butler Air Transport’s Viscount utilisation problem to Ivan Holyman, he raised no objection to the Viscount being operated between Sydney & Melbourne via Wagga Wagga.  However, he said he was unable to offer Butler Air Transport any facilities at Essendon.  Butler then made a request to the Federal Government for use of the Overseas Terminal at Essendon. 

The Director-General objected to the application, but once again Mr Anthony, the Minister, said that he could see no reason why Butler Air Transport should not be permitted to use the building, & that everything should be done to help Butler out of its troubles.

On 27 May, B.A.T. cancelled services to Cootamundra, due to poor loadings; ending 21 years of service to that town by the airline.

In the financial year ending 30 June, 1955, B.A.T. showed an operating profit of £56,278 (an earning rate of 27% on capital), despite its operational issues.  Subsidiary Queensland Airlines contributed a further £20,655 operating profit to its parent company.

On 27 July, Butler Air Transport advised the DCA that the first service to be operated by the Viscount was to be on the Sydney to Bourke route, on 23 October.

On 27 September, B.A.T.’s first Vickers Viscount 747, VH-BAT, was accepted ay Weybridge, U.K., departing the next day & arriving Sydney on 04 October.  It was initially configured with 40 seats, but that was later changed to 47 seats.

On 12 October, 1955, the airline then advised the DCA that that had changed & the first Viscount service would be on 5 November, on the Sydney to Coolangatta route.  Then, less than two weeks later, on 24 October, the airline again advised the DCA of the revised plans for use of the aircraft.  This time is was to be on charter services between Sydney & Coffs Harbour, Sydney to Parkes & Dubbo & on the Sydney to Coffs Harbour & Coolangatta route. 

The airline finally received the required NSW Department of Motor Transport licence to operate the aircraft wholly within NSW on the 31 October.

According to the Director General of Civil Aviation, the purchase of the two Viscounts by Butler was done without consultation with the Federal Government, on Butler Air Transport’s proposed use of the aircraft on NSW country airports. 

Butler Air Transport encountered many problems operating Viscounts to NSW country airports, such as Broken Hill, Bourke, Cooma, Dubbo, Coffs Harbour & Parkes, due to the lack of runway length & strength, with the DCA warning that the airports would not be upgraded (flagged in a ministerial policy announcement made on 21 October, 1955) & Viscount operations could not continue indefinitely. 

The Department of Civil Aviation had advised Butler Air Transport that there were no funds available for the upgrade of rural aerodromes to the standard required for the Viscount services.  On 21 October, Donald (later Sir Donald) Anderson, who was the Director General Designate, said that Butler Air Transport had brought the Vickers Viscount aircraft without regard to be aerodromes is was going to use them on. 

Mr. Anderson continued “As a result, Mr. Butler has quite a problem on his hands if he wants to operate his new aircraft to areas he has suggested.” 

The retiring Director General said the Department’s policy would not permit improvement of country aerodromes to allow Convair, or Viscount, operations while other suitable aircraft, which were more efficient & had a larger capacity than the DC-3, could use the same aerodromes.  The aircraft the DCA had in mind was the British Handley Page Herald. 

Butler Air Transport had found, after ordering the Vickers Viscount, that the runways at both Bourke & Evans Head, which were being served by DC-3 aircraft, had insufficient length & strength to take the larger aircraft.

By October, in a sign of things to come in the battle for control of Butler Air Transport, the airline was under attack by the Australian National Airways’ investment arm, Bungana Investments.  The much larger airline was buying Butler shares through its Bungana Investment arm at an ever-increasing rate.  Australian National Airways Pty. Ltd. acquired a majority holding (100,199 of the 200,000) of Butler Air Transport shares.  Those shares did not give it a majority of the voting power, as shares were issued on a diminishing sliding scale of voting rights.  Arthur Butler decided to prevent this takeover in order to keep control of the airline away from ANA. 

To counter this rising power, Butler offered half of Butler Air Transport to the New South Wales Government.  That offer brought an immediate response from the management of East West Airlines in Tamworth.  They strongly opposed the move by Butler, as it threatened their own existence as the state’s second largest airline.  With a state-controlled airline, the future of air licences in the state would surely go to Butler, leaving East West with few opportunities to expand. 

The state government rejected the offer from Butler; on 10 October, 1956; saying it was still reviewing all its options in regard to entering into airline operations.
On 05 November, VH-BAT finally entered service, Sydney-Coolangatta, on a restricted basis, due to problems with its flight operations manual.

That resulted from the DCA having approved the aircraft’s maintenance manual, but on 25 October, the DCA advised that the operations manual for the Viscount had not been reviewed & approved &, until such time as this was done, the aircraft was not able to undertake revenue services for the airline.  The inaugural flight had not received approval to carry the fare-paying passengers, as a result of the delay in getting the operations manual approved.  That situation resulted in what was said at the time the cheapest flight in Australian civil aviation. 

Before the 39 passengers travelling from Sydney to Coolangatta boarded their aircraft, they had their £8/8/- fares refunded on the spot.  The equally happy Coolangatta-Sydney passengers were flown back free.  The same day the airline was scheduled to operate a charter service, with the aircraft to Coffs Harbour, but this was switched to a chartered QANTAS DC-4 aircraft, for the same reason.

On 16 November, VH-BAT entered regular service, Sydney-Dubbo-Sydney.

On 19 November, VH-BAT began regular services Sydney-Coolangatta-Sydney, initially operating on Mondays, Saturdays & Sundays.

On 01 December, despite advice from Ivan Holyman, Butler Air Transport operated a proving Viscount 747 flight Sydney-Wagga Wagga-Melbourne.

On 12 December, 1955, B.A.T. began scheduled twice-daily Sydney-Wagga Wagga-Melbourne Viscount 747 services.  The services also covered Coolangatta-Sydney-Coolangatta.  Viscount 747 services also operated Sydney-Dubbo-Sydney on Tuesdays, Wednesdays & Fridays.  That put Butler Air Transport in direct competition with A.N.A., its major shareholder & with Ansett Airways & TAA.  That date was also the 21st anniversary of the first service by Butler Air Transport.

On 15 December, DC-3 VH-AOG crashed-landed shortly after take-off, at Bourke, on a scheduled passenger flight to Nyngan; without injury.  The aircraft was written-off.

During 1955, Butler Air Transport carried 158,442 passengers, 2,434 tonnes (2,684 tons) of freight & 9.07 tonnes (10 tons) of mail, with just 308 employees.

Within a month of introducing the Viscount, the Coolangatta service became profitable again & on other routes operated by the Viscount the revenue increased enormously although the weather conditions experienced were chaotic.

1955 was a busy year for the airline, with it carrying 158,442 passengers, 2,684 tons (2,435 tonnes) of freight, 10 tons (9.07 tonnes) of mail & all this with 308 employees.  It had introduced the most advanced aircraft currently in Australia into service & had dealt with political divides within & from outside of the organisation.

During the first half of 1956, the airline suffered from appalling weather, the worst & most prolonged since the airline commenced operating regular air services in 1934.  Several of the airlines’ aircraft were damaged in the air & on the ground by weather during this period.  The Viscount was damaged when it was struck by lightning, which severed one of its radio aerials & a DC-3 aircraft, which flew into a storm at night, was damaged so badly by hail that its main planes had to be replaced. 

Three other aircraft suffered damage to lesser degrees, which had a lower impact of the operation of the airline.  For a considerable period the country extending from Warren to the Queensland border again resembled a vast inland sea, where thousands of sheep were drowned & millions of pounds worth of damage was caused by the flooding. 

Many of the aerodromes Butler Air Transport served were isolated, to some degree by the floodwaters.  At Coolangatta it was necessary to ferry traffic by boat to the landing strip, & the only way Butler could get its passengers to & from the aerodrome at Dubbo was by train, a journey across the wide & roaring torrent that was the Macquarie River.

It was necessary to undertake a hazardous journey of fourteen miles to & from the aerodrome at Brewarrina. A six-minute car ride of three miles took an hour or more dodging the flooding covering the countryside.  Throughout the deluge, the Viscount kept flying (except for the short time taken to repair the damage done by the lightning strike).

Despite the head shaking of the ‘experts’, some of whom had predicted dire consequences resulting from Butler Air Transport’s attempt to give its customers the best of service, the Viscount had flown over 1,000 hours & had carried more than 34000 paying passengers during the first six months it had been in service. 

Despite new maintenance & operational methods, associated with the Viscount, & the appalling weather bringing problems & conditions, which inflicted great hardship on both the maintenance & flying staff, the operation of the Viscount had been very successful.

Unfortunately Arthur Butler’s relationship with some of the directors deteriorated during this period, because these directors chose to ignore the circumstances, which had impelled the Board to agree unanimously to buy the Viscounts, & began to worry about the impact of the Viscount operations on Butler’s contemporaries.

In its 1st six months of operation Viscount 747 VH-BAT carried more than 34,000 paying passengers; flying over 1,000 hours.

On 06 February, B.A.T. began Sydney-Cooma-Melbourne services; using both DC-3s & the Viscount, as traffic demanded, on the twice-weekly service.  This was partly to help service the new Snowy Mountain River Scheme.

From 02 May, 1956, the Wagga Wagga service to/from Melbourne was cancelled & the airline operated its two Melbourne services non-stop from/to Sydney; meaning that they directly competed with A.N.A.; one of its major shareholders.  Apart from those routes, the Viscount was also operated on the Sydney to/from Dubbo (with services operating on Tuesday, Wednesday & Friday).

From 22 May, Butler Air Transport began 3-days-a-week Viscount 747 services Sydney-Parkes-Sydney.  It therefore came as no surprise that Butler Air Transport once held the highest utilization of any Viscount operator in the world, with a daily average utilization rate of 9 hours & 8 minutes.

During June, both B.A.T.’s D.H.114 Herons, VH-AHB & VH-ARB were withdrawn from service & sold abroad; leaving B.A.T. with 1 Viscount 747, & 6 DC-3s.

For the financial year ending 30 June, the combined Butler Air Transport/Queensland Airlines operations returned a profit of £28,373, but that included a £30,000 insurance payment on a damaged DC-3 & compared badly with the previous year’s results.  B.A.T. itself had a turnover of £1,108,499, with an operating profit of £1,850.  The results reflected the atrocious weather conditions of recent months.

During August Ansett Airways & Butler Air Transport considered a merger, to overcome A.N.A.’s attempts to gain control of B.A.T.  Discussions did not get much beyond the idea stage & were declared as failed on 10 October, the same date that Arthur Butler announced that the NSW State Government had officially rejected his offer to sell them 50% of B.A.T.

On 14 September, B.A.T.'s second & final Vickers Viscount 747, VH-BUT, arrived at Mascot, from the U.K.  Its delivery allowed B.A.T. to progressively introduce Viscount services Sydney-Parkes-Dubbo, Sydney-Coffs Harbour-Casino, Sydney-Toowoomba, Sydney-Bourke-Charleville; despite advice from the Director General of Civil Aviation on the inadequate state of many of the strips. 

The Viscounts were also still causing issues for the airline in other quarters.  The success of the Viscount operations & the decision to modernise the rest of the airline’s fleet, seemed to widen the breach between Ivan Holyman & Arthur Butler & this was to cause Arthur Butler considerable distress.  Twice both parties attempted to settle their differences & twice they failed.  Both were to blame, as, reportedly, they allowed their quick tempers to override their common sense.  Eventually, Arthur Butler appealed to Mr (later Sir) John Bates, a fellow director with Ivan Holyman, in an attempt to settle the differences.  The dispute erupted into the public media again during October 1956. 

On 23 October, the Argus newspaper, Melbourne, reported that Ivan Holyman had stated ”There was no sense in seeing our own money used to finance competition on interstate air routes”. He continued “......about a year ago, with the arrival of the Viscount Mr Butler wanted to start a direct intercapital service”.

ANA’s view in the article was that the Viscount services operated by Butler were “not economically practicable”. 

The media statement by Ivan Holyman, against Arthur Butler & Butler Air Transport, was based upon a letter sent by Arthur Butler, as the Company Chairman, to all shareholders.  The letter was published on 25 October in the Sydney Morning Herald, by shareholders of Butler Air transport, after Ivan Holyman’s statement in the ‘Argus’. 

In the letter, Arthur Butler made statements in regard to the shareholding of the airline, stating that he never knew that ANA, or its investment arm Bungana Investments, had a stake in the airline.  Ivan Holyman responded more formally 30 October, publishing his own reply to Butler’s statement to the shareholders. 

That letter refuted many of Arthur’s claims & provided more evidence to disclaim Arthur’s original letter to shareholders. That was to be the last (albeit indirect) exchange between the two, before Ivan’s unexpected passing away, some 10 weeks later.

On 31 October, at the Annual General Meeting, Mr. Allen, the A.N.A.-appointed Director for more than 11 years, was removed from the Board of Directors by a vote of shareholders (6,539 vs. 6,411).  Mr. E. Armstrong (representing A.N.A.) & Mr. E. Kingsford-Smith (favoring Arthur Butler) were appointed in his place.

During November, 1956, Arthur Butler attempted to prevent A.N.A. gaining operational control of B.A.T., by issuing some 100,000 £1 full voting rights shares to staff, at a minimal initial cost (1/-, with quarterly calls of one penny per share, which would have taken 57 years to become fully paid). 

It was possible to do that without jeopardising the shareholders’ funds, which stood at £440,214 as of 30 June, 1956, with an issued capital of 200,000 shares – or £2/4/- per share.  A.N.A. took legal action against the move.  By early-1957, the percentage of shares owned by Bungana had fallen to 49.75%, rather than 52%, as Bungana had not taken up its entitlements for extra shares & the issue of the shares to Butler staff.

During November, 1956, Butler Air Transport commenced services to/from Wilcannia, using DC-3s.  The direct services continued until June 1961, when Airlines of N.S.W. replaced them with light aircraft connections via Broken Hill.

On 10 December, Butler Air Transport introduced Viscount 747 services Sydney-Broken Hill-Adelaide & return; Monday to Friday.  After the Ansett takeover, Convair CV-440s replaced the Viscounts, on a three-times-weekly basis.

The success of the two Viscount aircraft led Butler to investigate replacements for the DC-3 fleet.  The choices finally narrowed down to either the piston-engined Handley Page Herald, or the Dutch prop-jet Fokker F.27 Friendship, which was chosen by TAA. 

The outlook became so serious that the Board decided to replace the DC-3 aircraft with Fokker Friendships as soon as possible, subject to the aircraft being given a final review & approval from the shareholders.  The Board favored the Fokker F.27 aircraft over the Handley Page Herald due to its high wing, which offered good views for passengers, its 32-40 seat capacity, & its turbine engines, which were basically the same as on the Viscount, & its pressurised cabin.

In the Netherlands Arthur also flew the Fokker F.27 Friendship & found it to be a delightful aircraft to fly & an ideal type for a DC-3 replacement.  The airline therefore placed an order for 5 of the new Fokker F.27 Friendships.  Butler was unable to obtain delivery of the Fokker F.27 aircraft before 1959. 

But British European Airways was prepared to sell a few of its Airspeed AS.57 Ambassador ‘Elizabethan’ aircraft early in 1957, as BEA were now disposing of them.  Butler intended to replace theAmbassador’s piston engines with Dart turboprop engines, to standardise powerplants, as soon as the airline could afford to do so.

On 13 December, Butler Air Transport announced an order for five Fokker F.27 Mk. 100 Friendships, at a cost of about £25,000 each, for B.A.T. (3) & Q.A.L. (2).

Butler returned to Australia via Canada, & the U.S.A.  In addition to visiting de Havilland Canada, he wanted to visit Los Angeles, where he expected to sell the DC-3 machines, which would become redundant when the Ambassadors, & F.27s were placed into service. 

The agent, who Butler visited in Los Angeles, for the sale of the DC-3s, offered a deal, which would see the funds from the sale of the aircraft put into an offshore bank account.  As the deal seemed to be only vaguely within the law, Arthur Butler refused to sell the aircraft to the dealer & continued onto Australia.

With the five F.27 aircraft the airline had decided to order, & with the Ambassadors Butler had just purchased to replace the DC-3, until the F.27 arrived, the airline thought it would have an ideal fleet to cope with the airline’s future operations.  The airline was also well on its way to becoming the first airline in Australia with a ‘turbine only’ aircraft fleet. 

A prospectus was issued, after the order for the F.27 was announced, to raise capital for the purchase of the aircraft, with the aim of an issue of 1.6 million £1 shares.  The share issue was based upon 5/- being paid per share on application, a further 5/- at allotment of shares & the remaining amount being required to be paid when the Butler Air Transport Board requested it, but not exceeding 5/- per request, & not less than six months apart.

Aircraft cost for 5 F.27 Aircraft    £1,240,625
Delivery Cost    £     63,846
Spares    £   269,000
New Hangar    £   200,000
Total Cost    £1,773,471

Included as part of the capital raising, was the need to replace the airline’s old terminal & hangar facility at Mascot.  The cost of this was to be approximately £200,000 & was to provide the airlines customers & staff the latest in work & terminal facilities.

A late-1956 attempted share offer of 1.6 million £1 shares, to finance the estimated £1,773,471 purchase (including spares & a new hangar) was poorly-subscribed & failed.  The F.27 order was cancelled in November 1957, due to B.A.T.’s financial problems & the aircraft were never built.

The airline’s profits began to drop with the introduction of the second Viscount aircraft.  In September, B.A.T. made a profit of £9,273.  Then, in October, a £4,792 profit was made.  But, by December, the airline suffered a loss of £1,435.  It was at this time of falling profits that the airline’s Board of Directors split into two main factions; one supporting Arthur Butler & the other A.N.A. 

The splitting of the board was a direct result of the decision made 12 months previously by the airline to compete on the Sydney to Melbourne route, using the Viscount aircraft, resulting in Butler Air Transport competing with its major shareholder A.N.A.  As a result of this infighting, at the February 1957 board meeting directors D.S Aaron & H.L. Dawson (also the Company Secretary & a member of the board since its inception) resigned their board positions. 

Also at this meeting, the NSW Manager for A.N.A., P.H. Bond, & the Finance Manager for A.N.A., J.O Declerk were named as the A.N.A. nominees for the Butler Air Transport board

During late-1956, the Company’s financial position began to deteriorate, as did that of the State of New South Wales.  In September B.A.T. made a profit of £9.273, in October £4.792, but in December it made a loss of £1,435.

By the end of 1956 the airline was operating a fleet of six DC-3 & the two Viscount 747s.

In January, 1957, the Company returned a £11,690 profit.  Overall, the Company was some £130,000 in debt & by February was overdrawn by £168,000.

In early-1957, A.N.A. (which now owned 49.75% of B.A.T.’s shares; but had limited voting rights) began a court case, in the N.S.W. Equity Court, contesting the issue of shares to Butler staff, claiming that it was purely a device to prevent the legal rights of the Company’s major shareholder. 

However, the legal action was cancelled on 17 January, after Arthur Butler resigned as Chairman of B.A.T., but remained as Managing Director.  His Excellency General Sir John Northcott, Governor of N.S.W., who was about to relinquish his rôle as Governor of N.S.W., was offered & accepted the position. 

He had long been a supporter of Butler Air Transport.  Until he was available, Squadron Leader Russell Nash was appointed Acting Chairman, on 22 January.

On 17 January, the DCA declared Bourke Airport unfit for Viscount operations.

At the February B.A.T. Board Meeting, two Directors resigned.

On 13 February, the DCA declared that Coffs Harbour was now unfit for Viscount operations & at the end of February announced that Viscount operations had caused cracks in the sealed surfaces at Coffs Harbour & they had concerns on similar problems at Bourke, Broken Hill, Dubbo, & Parkes. 

The DCA also advised B.A.T. that aircraft the size of Fokker F.27s, or Handley Page Heralds, could not be operated at those airports without extensive reconstruction.  Arthur Butler believed Coffs Harbour traffic was too large to be served by the DC-3 aircraft, which were then the only other aircraft available. 

Butler would find it increasingly difficult to economically operate the Viscount, if it was unable to operate from the locations named by the DCA as being unsuitable.

During February the airline made a loss of £13,945.

Butler Air Transport’s DC-3s were becoming more & more unpopular with its customers & the Board recognised that they had to seek a replacement aircraft type.
In December 1956, B.A.T. had placed an 'order' for five Fokker F.27 Friendships (2 for Q.A.L.).  But, as the F.27s could not be delivered until 1959 & B.A.T. was later advised that their operation would require extensive reconstruction at various country N.S.W. airports. 

An ‘order’ for the 3 ex-British European Airways’ Ambassadors was announced on 31 May, as an interim aircraft, pending the arrival of the F.27s.  Unable to finance the planned F.27 purchase, the Board of the Company cancelled the order in November 1957.

At the 01 April, 1957, Board Meeting, the Board reviewed closing the airline down, due to the operating costs of the DC-3.  However, it decided to hold off on this course of action, if a suitable replacement type could be found, which they believed the Ambassador would achieve.  With the aerodrome restrictions now in place for the Viscount aircraft, & the aircrafts’ utilisation at an all-time low, the financial situation was now becoming dire.  At that meeting, D.S. Aaron resigned his rôle as the Chairman & Director of Queensland Airlines (having also resigned from the Butler Air Transport Board back in January 1957).

On 31 May, Arthur Butler returned from his 4-week overseas trip, to announce that he had purchased the three 49-seat Airspeed A.S.57 Ambassadors from BEA & that these would be delivered within weeks.  Butler also announced that further AS.57s were available, if the 3 initial aircraft proved successful within B.A.T.’s operations.  The total cost was to be approximately £602,400 for all three aircraft, plus spares. 

That was partially offset by the sale of three DC-3 aircraft, at the price of £55,000 each.  Early-in August, Arthur Butler stated:
“Being much lighter than the Viscount, the Elizabethan does not require the same length of runway, in large degrees the Ambassador should be able to operate from aerodromes which are only up to DC-3 standard. The Elizabethan, too, has pressurisation, unusual qualities of quietness & steadiness & the high wing gives a degree of passenger visibility unrivalled by that of any other airliner in Australian service.”

The airline’s losses continued to mount.  A small profit, of £2,154, in May was followed by a loss of £5,097 in June.

On 18 June, Butler Air Transport’s three second-hand Airspeed AS.57 Ambassadors, G-ALZX (VH-BUI), G-AMAH (VH-BUJ) & G-AMAE (VH-BUK) arrived at Sydney, in a blaze of publicity.  The BEA crews remained in Australia for several weeks, to supervise training.  Butler reduced the passenger seats from BEA’s 49 to 47, including 4 rows (18 seats) of rear-facing seats at the front of the aircraft & 6 rows (29 seats) of rear-facing seats aft.. 

Passengers entered via a rear upward-opening door, which was very close to the ground, making passenger entry & exit much easier than the DC-3 or Viscount, then in service with the airline.  The usual cruising speed of the Ambassador was around 295km/hr (155 knots), which was approximately 110 km (70 miles) per hour faster than the DC-3, at altitudes of 12,000 to 15,000 feet. 

The Ambassadors were popular with passengers, as they were comfortable & the air-conditioning was a popular bonus over the DC-3s then in use on many of the airline’s routes.  Unfortunately, the air-conditioning did find it hard to cope with the hot Australian summer temperatures, while it was on the ground.  A simple solution to the problem was to take off with the air-conditioning on & the cockpit windows open slightly to allow better ventilation through the cabin, until the aircraft reached an altitude of about 5,000 to 6,000 feet. 

The windows were then closed & the cabin pressurized, as the air-conditioning unit was able to cope from that point.  Immediately the Ambassadors commenced operations, they proved popular with passengers.  The financial returns from these aircraft did much to offset the losses on the DC-3 operation.  Those had been accentuated by the severe drought conditions affecting the rural areas served by the Company at the time. 

Butler used the Ambassadors to replace DC-3 aircraft on many of the Company routes, which were banned from the Viscount services, because of the effects of the Viscounts heavier weight.  In addition it was planned to fly them to country airports with unsealed runways, where the Viscounts were also unable to operate.

During June DC-3 VH-AKR was sold to Mandated Airlines.

During June a loss of £5,097 was made by B.A.T.

For the 1956/1957 Financial Year a profit of £28,997 was made by the combined B.A.T./Q.A.L. group, compared with an operating loss of £3,074 for B.A.T. the previous year.

On 27 July, 1957, Airspeed AS.57 Ambassador VH-BUI flew publicity flights from Sydney to Coffs Harbour & Casino, where the aircraft was opened to the public.

On 28 July, VH-BUI flew on to Narrabri (where some 2,000 people came to see it), Coonamble & Bourke & back to Sydney.

During July, a loss of £18,852 was made by B.A.T.  B.A.T. then applied for a £250,000 loan from the Commonwealth Bank, to finance the Ambassador purchase.  This was granted, with the proviso that the bank would force the airline to sell one of its Viscounts, should the loan be forfeited.

On 05 August, Butler Air Transport began scheduled Airspeed AS.57 Ambassador (called ‘Elizabethans’ by Butler; retaining their old BEA fleet type name & their individual aircraft names, at the insistence of Arthur Butler) operations.  The 1st service, operated by VH-BUI, was Flight 1064, 05 August, (STD 13:15) Sydney-Coffs Harbour-Casino.  The service was initially scheduled as daily except Tue/Wed.  However, a Wed service was added within weeks & it became daily in early-September.

VH-BUJ joined VH-BUI in early-September followed by VH-BUK in late-December.  The delayed introductions were mainly due to delays in training enough flight crews, after B.A.T.’s Training Captain fell ill for several weeks.

During September, ‘Elizabethan’ services were introduced Sydney-Coonamble-Bourke (connecting with a QAL DC-3 service Bourke-Cunnamulla) & Sydney-Walgett.

The AS.57 soon proved popular with passengers & earned good revenue, which helped offset the losses made on the DC-3 operations, which had been made worse by severe drought conditions in many areas served.

On 03 October, when Ansett Transport Industries Ltd. signed the contract to purchase Australian National Airways Pty. Ltd., A.T.I. also obtained the right to purchase the 52% of the shares held by A.N.A. (through Bungana Investments Pty. Ltd.) in Butler Air Transport Ltd., which owned Queensland Airlines.  The court case for the control of Butler, via the November 1956 issue of shares to Butler staff, initiated by A.N.A., continued.

On 04 October, A.T.I. made an offer to purchase remaining B.A.T. shares (not including those still subject to the court case) for 30/- cash, or 6 A.T.I. shares; with the offer being open for 10 days.  At a Directors meeting on 10 October, Arthur Butler attempted to have the offer rejected & a letter was sent to shareholders telling them to reject the offer.

Despite that, by the end of 1957, Ansett had acquired £194,000 of the £268,000 capital of Butler Air Transport.

During October, DC-3 VH-IND joined the B.A.T. fleet.

During October, amid mounting losses, Arthur Butler advised that the two Viscounts would be offered for sale at £820,000, to help cover the £50,000 loss made on the aircraft for the year.  However, Reg Ansett said that, as the major B.A.T. shareholder, he would not permit that to happen.

During November, the ‘Elizabethans’ replaced Viscount 747s on B.A.T.’s once-weekly (Thursdays) Sydney-Bourke-Charleville services; making it one of the longest scheduled AS.57 services ever (until it reverted to a Viscount operation some 6 weeks later).

During November, the B.A.T. order for Fokker F.27s was cancelled, due to B.A.T.’s financial problems.  The aircraft were never built.

By December, 1957, Butler Air Transport served Sydney-Baradine-Burren Junction-Collarenebri, Sydney-Bourke-Charleville, Sydney-Broken Hill-Adelaide, Sydney-Coffs Harbour-Casino, Sydney-Coolangatta, Sydney-Coolangatta-Toowoomba, Sydney-Cooma, Sydney-Cooma-Melbourne, Sydney-Melbourne, Sydney Wagga Wagga-Melbourne, Sydney-Coonamble-Bourke-Cunnamulla, Sydney-Coonamble-Walgett, Sydney-Coonamble-Carinda-Walgett, Sydney-Dubbo, Sydney-Forster, Sydney-Forster-Kempsey, Sydney-Parkes-Dubbo, Sydney-Tooraweenah-Coolah & Sydney-Tooraweenah-Coonamble-Brewarrina & Sydney-Walgett-Goodooga.

During December, 1957, ‘Elizabethan’ services were introduced to Coolangatta & Toowoomba, with AS.57s supplementing Viscount services at Coolangatta.  They also shared the twice-daily services to Dubbo & Parkes with the Viscounts.  AS.57 ‘Elizabethan’ services were eventually operated Sydney-Coffs Harbour-Casino, Sydney-Coffs Harbour, Sydney-Coonamble-Bourke, Sydney-Coonamble-Walgett, Sydney-Dubbo-Parkes, Sydney-Oakey, Sydney-Oakey-Coolangatta & Sydney-Coolangatta-Oakey.

During 1957, B.A.T. operated the first commercial passenger aircraft into the new Merimbula Airport, as part of their services to Moruya & Bega.  Bega was eventually to be removed from the route network, as the local aerodrome could not support the larger aircraft then coming into operational use by the airline & the airfield was not to be upgraded by the authorities responsible for it.

From 09 December, 1957 to January 1958, Viscount 747 VH-BUT was leased to TAA, as it was from April to October 1958.

While the fight for the control of the airline was on going, the financial situation of the airline continued to deteriorate at an ever quicker pace.  At the 31 October Directors’ Meeting, Butler advised that the two Viscounts were to be offered for sale at £820,000, due to the mounting losses on the aircraft, which, so far, had amounted to £50,000 for the year.  The Ansett Director advised that, as it was the major shareholder, that course of action was not going to occur.  Arthur then offered the aircraft to Ansett as first right of purchase, at the same purchase price.

No further mention of this was made by Ansett.  The minutes of the next Directors’ Meeting, held on 27 November, show that Arthur Butler advised the attending Directors that he had approached the Minister of the DCA & had asked him to amend the Airlines Agreement Act, to prohibit any airline from holding interests in another airline, while they were a party to the Act. 

The intention of this was to force Ansett sell its shares in Butler Air Transport.  Since Ansett had taken over A.N.A., it was now a signatory to the Act &, as such, if the Act was amended it would force Ansett to sell its stake in Butler.  The Minister advised Butler that the Government would not amend the Act to allow for that to happen.  Arthur was now desperate to maintain control of his airline, even as it was in financial decline.

The airline’s financial position was now so bad that Butler advised the board on 19 December that they should seriously consider liquidating the airline.  The continued low utilisation rate of the Viscounts, the increasing costs of the DC-3 fleet & the late introduction of the Ambassador fleet was having a profound impact on the airline’s financial position. 

The operating cost was now back down to £152 (due to one of them being leased to TAA), the Ambassador was at £146 per hour & the DC-3 was at £64 per hour.  While the DC-3 was lower, due to its slower speed & lower seating numbers, (24 passengers as opposed to the Viscount & Ambassador carrying 47 passengers each), it was more costly to operate over the longer sectors, which were the mainstay of the airline’s operation.

Aircraft    Seating    Hourly operating cost (Dec 1957)    Per hour per seat cost
Viscount    47    £152    £3.23
Ambassador    47    £146    £3.1
DC-3    24    £64    £2.6

A similar letter was sent to the Board on 11 February, 1958, as reduced operating hours for the Viscounts, because of the restricted destinations available to them, increased their operating costs, at a time when the airline was also experiencing increased costs for the remaining DC-3s & the new AS.57s.

At the same 19 December, 1957, Board meeting, it was revealed that Ron Adair, the founder of what became Queensland Airlines, had plans to buy the airline back from B.A.T., for £2 per share.  The offer was put on hold.

At the  B.A.T. December 1957 Director's Meeting, Arthur Butler attempted to prevent Ansett gaining operational control of B.A.T., by issuing some 80,000 shares to staff, at a minimal initial cost.  B.A.T.’s article of Association stated that each shareholder had the same voting rights, regardless of the number of shares held.  

That had been used by Arthur Butler in his earlier efforts to prevent A.N.A. from gaining control of the airline.  However, Ansett won a court injunction, preventing those shares being used in any proxy battle to control the ownership of B.A.T.

The Annual General Meeting, which had been adjourned in November, was held on 31 December.  The accuracy of the Company’s books had been confirmed & the payment of the dividend approved.  But, when the ballot for the Directors was about to be taken, it was discovered that the ballot papers had been printed incorrectly. 

The meeting was again adjourned & more litigation ensued.  That state of affairs was no doubt annoying to those who were attempting to take control of Butler Air Transport’s affairs & it certainly was frustrating for the management of the airline, who were responsible for the efficient functioning of the Company.

By late-1957, B.A.T. shares, which had been worth 32/6, were selling for just 15/- & at one stage dropped to just 8/9, before rising top 25/- as a result of the Ansett interest in B.A.T. & to 40/6, after the offer was rejected by the Board.

By December 1957 Butler Air Transport was serving the following interstate routes:
Sydney-Broken Hill-Adelaide

By the end of 1957, the utilisation of the Viscount fleet was falling, as a direct result of the reduced number of destinations, due to the damage the Viscounts were causing to the airfields. The reduction of utilisation had the result of forcing the hourly cost of operation of the Viscount fleet up to £176/2/- per hour.  The airline was expecting a loss for the current financial year on Viscount operations in the order of £40,000. 

As a result of the financial state of the Viscount operations, Arthur Butler put a letter to the Board on 11 February 1958, again proposing to the board to sell the Viscounts, due to the escalating cost overruns & the financial state of the airline.  That was rejected by the Board, but did provide ammunition for the aircraft to be continually leased to TAA.  Butler Air Transport leased out its second Vickers Viscount, VH-BUT, to TAA during December 1957 to January 1958 & then again between April 1958 & October 1958. 

The charter of the Viscounts to TAA was initially intended to be a long-term contract to TAA, but, on 02 December, that was changed to a short-term contract, at the insistence of the Ansett-appointed Director, Mr. Ralf Cooper.  The short term contract was then signed with TAA for 30 hours per week.  Ansett also offered to lease the aircraft, at the same rate as that offered by TAA.  But the rest of the Butler Air Transport Board rejected that offer.  Directors’ Meeting records show that at the same time,

TAA advised Butler Air Transport that it would cancel the long-term contract for the Viscount.  Arthur Butler wrote in his diary that he believed Ansett had put pressure on TAA to cancel the long-term contract, but that has never been proven.

Then the Commonwealth Government increased its tax on turbine fuel, to the extent that it was no longer possible for the Viscount services to be operated on a reasonable economic basis (other than TAA, Butler Air Transport was the only domestic operator using turbine fuel at the time). 

To rub salt into the wounds, the D.C.A., at the behest of the Government sent a senior officer of the Department, to investigate the morale of the staff of the Butler Air Transport.  That officer, with whom Arthur had been associated for over 30 years, was quite frank about his unpleasant mission & very satisfied with the results of his investigation, which the airline aided in every possible way. 

Although this investigation was carried out discreetly, it soon became known & before long there was a dramatic drop in Butler Air Transport passenger traffic, but that, perhaps, may have been coincidental.  Despite these trials & tribulations, many shareholders remained loyal to the Company.

The Butler Article of Association was that each shareholder had one vote, regardless of the number of shares that shareholder actually held.  The Article of Association was setup that way to ensure that A.N.A. could not gain majority voting rights, even though it owned a majority of the shares.

In January, 1958, Ansett followed Butler’s lead the previous month, by issuing shares to many Ansett staff & using them as proxy voters (flying staff to Sydney on 9 special flights, from Melbourne, Adelaide & Brisbane, in what was the largest movement of shareholders in Australian history, to that time) at a much-delayed B.A.T. Annual General Meeting at Mascot on 21 January, 1958.  7,311 Ansett staff attended the meeting, each with one share & one vote; being considered as nominee holders of B.A.T. shares. 

Reg Ansett pushed through a resolution that no aircraft could be sold, & no new shares issued, without the approval of an extraordinary shareholders’ meeting.  Sir John Northcott withdrew his name from the ballot of Directors.

In January, Reg Ansett said to the media, on the battle for Butler Air Transport: “In this I am fighting Butler’s battle as well as my own”. Only by developing effective competition can we prevent the development of a completely nationalised airline system. We are just not a big business, using steam roller tactics to take over & crush a smaller business. I know I cannot gain the strength I need for the competitive battle ahead until I straighten out the private enterprise side of the business.  I knew that when I first bid for ANA. I don’t want to end. I don’t want to crush BAT. There is still a big job of development to do in New South Wales & Queensland back country air services.”  He continued “BAT & QAL, its subsidiary, have already done a good job there & it is a job I want them to continue doing in an expanding way. I want them to leave me to do the major competitive job. I can help them & they can help me” Reg Ansett said.

On 05 February, the B.A.T. Chairman, Sir John Northcott, ruled 7,311 (the individual Ansett staff votes), of the 19,289 Ansett 'proxy' votes, invalid at a Director's meeting.

However, on 18 February, his ruling was overturned by the N.S.W. Equity Court.  The Court ruled the Ansett proxy votes valid & ordered the appointment of new Directors, including Arthur Butler, a Mr. Declerck, who was appointed by both factions, & R.M. Ansett, E.D. Armstrong & R.D. Collins representing A.T.I.; removing 3 pro-Butler Directors from the Board.

Ansett Transport Industries thus gained control of Butler Air Transport Limited (then carrying some 200,000 passengers & 600 tonnes of freight/mail, per year) &, via B.A.T., of Queensland Airlines (which was then carrying some 50,000 passengers & over 1,100 tonnes of freight/mail, per year).  Sir John Northcott retired soon afterwards; leaving Arthur Butler as the sole Director not favoring A.T.I.

During February, 1958, B.A.T. began twice-weekly AS.57 ‘Elizabethan’ services Sydney-Kempsey-Sydney; joining its DC-3 services.

B.A.T. stated that their Evans Head operations had not been profitable for 9 months & they planned to move them to Casino as soon as the DCA allowed them to use Evans Head as an emergency strip.  B.A.T. stated that they would then offer a twice-daily service to/from Casino.

On 01 March, AS.57 VH-BUK had an emergency, whilst training at Canberra.  Repairs took some months & plans to operate AS.57s to Cooma were abandoned.

During April, 1958, DC-3 VH-ANR joined the fleet, remaining with the airline until after the name-change, in December.

By end-April, A.T.I. had acquired 99.8% of acquired Butler Air Transport Ltd. &, consequently, its subsidiary Queensland Airlines Pty. Ltd.

They soon acquired full control & the Company was delisted from the Stock Exchange.  The paid-up capital of Butler Air Transport Ltd., at the time of the takeover was £274,570.

B.A.T. staff, who had purchased 100,000 proxy shares at 1/-, minimum, each, were paid 2/- per share.  Butler Air Transport Ltd. became a wholly-owned subsidiary of A.T.I., with its own Board of Directors, Marketing Department, Traffic Department, etc.  Queensland Airlines became a subsidiary of ANSETT-ANA.

The Butler Air Transport owned fleet, at the time of full purchase, consisted of two Vickers Viscount 747s (VH-BAT & VH-BUT), three Airspeed AS.57 Ambassadors (VH-BUI, VH-BUJ, & VH-BUK) & 3 Douglas DC-3s (VH-AOH, VH-AOI, & VH-BDU), plus leased DC-3 VH-IND.  B.A.T. then operated some 7,000 route-miles (11,265km) in N.S.W., with an annual passenger carriage of over 200,000, plus 300 tons (272 tonnes) each of freight & mail.  Q.A.L. added some 2,000 route-miles (3,219km), some 50,000 passengers, 1,000 tons (901 tonnes) of freight & 100 tons (90 tonnes) of mail yearly.

By early-June, AS.57 ‘Elizabethan’ services had been reduced across the B.A.T. network, due to the upheaval in the Company’s management & A.T.I.’s desire to cease AS.57 operations.

During June, Butler Air Transport commenced services to/from Cobar; including it in their Sydney-Nyngan-Wilcannia services.

On 17 July, the A.T.I. Board approved the purchase of Fokker F.27 Mk. 200s for Butler Air Transport.

On 24 July, General Manager Stewart Middlemiss advised that F.27s would be progressively introduced from August 1959 & that the AS.57 Ambassadors would be sold abroad & replaced by DC-3s reconfigured to ‘Viewmaster’ configuration.

On 29August, 1958, Airspeed Ambassador VH-BUK operated Butler’s last passenger AS.57 service, when it operated Sydney-Casino-Oakey/Toowoomba-Sydney.

On 31August, Airspeed Ambassador VH-BUK operated Butler’s last ever AS.57 service, when it returned Coffs Harbour-Sydney after delivering Sunday newspapers.

During August/September, Butler’s 3 Airspeed Ambassadors were returned to British European Airways, after suffering overheating & other operational problems.  At the time of the takeover by A.T.I. some £440,000 was still owed on the Ambassadors to B.E.A.  They were subsequently sold for £94,125; incurring an overall loss of some £400,000 for the purchase & resale of the 3 Ambassadors, in what Airlines of N.S.W. later described as “a serious error of judgement” by Butler Air Transport.

In early-1962, Reg Ansett released the following statement on the Airspeed Ambassadors & the takeover of B.A.T. - "The facts associated with our negotiations with Butler Air Transport Ltd, have been widely misunderstood & misrepresented....” he stated.  He continued on "At the time the paid-up capital of BAT was £274570 & since our acquisition we have increased the assets by £875000 due to the purchase of new Fokker Friendship aircraft.  Our first objective after acquiring Butler Air Transport was again to turn a company which was running into very heavy losses into a profitable company & at the same time arrange the replacement of Elizabethan piston-engined aircraft with a modern turbine fleet of Fokker Friendships.  Despite the great expenditure by the Government on New South Wales country aerodromes, it was financially impossible to expect their development beyond the standard required for DC-3 & Fokker Friendship aircraft. 

This Government policy would certainly have been known to Butler Air Transport Ltd. & yet three Elizabethan aircraft were purchased at a cost of £602400.  They were totally unsuitable for intra-state operations, being beyond the capacity of New South Wales country aerodromes.  There being no other use for these aircraft, we had no alternative but to sell them at a great loss.  At the time of the takeover there was £440000 outstanding & owing to British European Airways.  They were returned to England & were ultimately sold for £94125 incurring an outright loss a/approximately £400000. 

Notwithstanding the return of these aircraft to England, this company has completely honoured Butler's obligations & we are in fact still paying off the balance to BEA as a result of this error of judgement by the old Butler company.  It can therefore be said that apart from the cost of providing a modern turbine fleet for New South Wales, we first had to suffer the enormous loss in disposing of unsuitable equipment. "

On 05 August, 1958, Convair CV-340 VH-BZE entered B.A.T. service, in full B.A.T. light-blue livery.  It remained with B.A.T. until 01 March, 1959; being replaced by CV-440 VH-BZF.

During August, Convair CV-440 VH-BZI joined the fleet, remaining until 14 July, 1960.

Douglas DC-3 VH-BZB was chartered, for an unknown period ending September, to help cover the loss of the Ambassadors.

By September, the Viscount 747s were reduced to operating Sydney-Bourke-Cunnamulla (weekly), Sydney-Coolangatta-Melbourne-Coolangatta (Saturdays & Sundays) & Sydney-Broken Hill-Adelaide (three-times-per-week).

Viscount 747 VH-BAT was transferred to ANSETT-ANA later in September.  It was later reregistered VH-RMO

The October 1958 B.A.T. timetable showed Viscount 747s only operating Melbourne-Coolangatta-Melbourne on Saturdays only.

Viscount 747 VH-BUT was transferred to ANSETT-ANA in October.  It was later reregistered VH-RMP.

On 03 October, Convair CV-340 VH-BZD entered B.A.T. service, Sydney-Casino.  It remained with them until February 1959.
Convair services included Sydney-Coffs Harbour-Casino-Coolangatta-Casino-Coffs Harbour-Sydney & Sydney-Cooma.

During November, Butler Air Transport began offering First-Class & Tourist-Class service on its Convair flights between Sydney & Adelaide, Coolangatta, Dalby, Dubbo, Forbes, Gilgandra, Narromine, Parkes, Toowoomba & Wellington.

On 06 November, Butler Air Transport Ltd. was renamed Butler Air Transport Pty. Ltd.

On 07 December, Douglas DC-3 VH-ANM(2) entered B.A.T. service; remaining with them until after the name-change.

During 1958, Convair CV-440 VH-BZM was chartered by B.A.T., for an unknown period.

Probably at some time during 1958, Douglas DC-3 VH-INI joined the B.A.T. fleet.  It remained with the airline until after the name-change.

During early 1959, Stewart Middlemiss visited Scone & announced, announcing a 3-times weekly operation, with DC-3 operations via Mudgee.

During March, 1959, the airline introduced Convair CV-440s VH-BZF & VH-BZH.  VH-BZH remained with the airline until 12 January, 1960 & VH-BZF until 11 July, 1960.

On 20 March, Arthur Butler resigned from the Board & as Managing Director.  Stewart Middlemiss, of Ansett Flying Boat Services, was appointed Managing Director the next day.

During August, Convair CV-440 VH-BZI joined the B.A.T. fleet; remaining until the 14 July, 1960.

Convair CV-440 VH-BZO was also chartered from Ansett for an unknown period, ending in September.

On 17 December, 1959, Butler Air Transport Pty. Ltd. was renamed Airlines of New South Wales Pty Ltd.  The 1st operation under the new name was on 19 December.

On 17 December, Airlines of N.S.W. took over the management of Ansett Flying Boat Services Pty. Ltd.


Airspeed AS.57 Ambassador 2 - VH-BUI, BIJ, BUK - Arthur Butler ordered 3 Ambassadors from Airspeed in December 1949, but they were never delivered.

Avro Avian Mk. IIIA - VH-UHY.
Avro 652A Anson - VH-AKU, ARK(?), ARL, AVS, BAB, BFI, BFY, BLL.
Butler ABA-2 Bat - VH-ARG.

Consolidated PB2B-1 Catalina - PB2B Catalinas A24-202, A24-362 & A24-376 were purchased by Butler Air Transport from the RAAF 11/10/46, being issued to B.A.T. 08/11/46 & were stripped for engines & spares at Lake Boga.

Convair CV-340 - VH-BZD, BZE.
Convair CV-440 - VH-BZF, BZH, BZI, BZM, BZO.

de Havilland D.H.80 - VH-UPN (owned by C.A. Butler & offered for charter.  It may never have been used by B.A.T. for airline services).

de Havilland D.H.84 - VH-AAO, AEF, AIA, AVU, URU, URV.

de Havilland D.H.89 - VH-UUO, UVT.

de Havilland D.H.90 - VH-UXS (Requisitioned for B.A.T. during WWII, but never operated by B.A.T.)

de Havilland D.H.114 - VH-AHB, ARB.

de Havilland Australia DHA-3 - Butler Air Transport were reportedly to operate the prototype DHA-3 Drover passenger aircraft on a 500-hour trial, under a proposal  formulated in 1948, which was not taken-up.

Douglas DC-2 - VH-ARB & VH-ARC were owned, but probably never operated.

Douglas DC-3 - (VH-AKG), VH-AKR, ANM(2), ANR, AOG, (AOH(1)), AOH(2), AOI, (BDR), BDU, BNH, BZB, IND, INF, INI.  Butler is also believed to have chartered the following DC-3s for short periods VH-ABR, ANH, ANJ, ANM(2), ANQ, ANR, ANS, ANT, ANV, ANX, ANZ, AVL, INA, INB, INC, ING, INI & INN.

Douglas DC-4 - BAT chartered an unknown QANTAS DC-4 05/11/55, for a planned Sydney-Coffs Harbour charter, due to Viscount 747 VH-BAT not yet having  DCA approval to carry passengers.

Fokker F.27 Friendship -     On 13/12/56 Butler Air Transport announced an order for five F.27 Mk. 100s, at a cost of about £250,000 each, for B.A.T. (3) & Q.A.L. MSNs 10128-10130 were allocated for 3 of them.  The order was later cancelled, due to B.A.T.’s financial problems & the aircraft were never built.

G.A.L. Monospar ST-12 - VH-UTH.  Tugan LJW.7 Gannet - VH-UVU.  Vickers Viscount 747 - VH-BAT, BUT. Butler Air Transport held options on a further 4 Viscounts, which were never taken-up. 

Information Source: Fred Niven