East-West Airlines

IATA Code: EW

ICAO Code: EWA

Known As: East-West Airlines

Full Name: East-West Airlines Ltd.

Country: Australia

Call sign: Eastwest




Objects in Collection







Brief History


On 14 September, 1946, a meeting of 14 people was held at the Tudor Hotel, Tamworth, where it was decided to form an airline, with the nominal capital of £50,000 & a paid-up capital of £10,000.

On 23 December, the Anson Holding Company, taking over from the Anson Holding Syndicate, was founded, by Basil Brown & Edward ‘Ted’ Wilkinson. During 1946, Wollongong & South Coast Aviation Service Pty. Ltd. was founded.

In early-1947, Basil Brown announced that a new company, East-West Airlines, would be formed, which would take over all the assets of the Anson Holding Company. On 23 June, the Anson Holding Company operated its first scheduled flight between Tamworth & Sydney, using Avro Anson VH-ASM; with Capt. John Rentell & 7 passengers.

This was initially a 3-times-weekly service, but was later daily.
On 11 July, the Anson Holding Company changed its name to East-West Airlines Ltd. & the new company was registered, with a nominal capital of £25,000 & a paid-up capital of £16,937.

During early-September, VH-ASM was joined by Anson VH-AYI, which had, in fact, being the 1st Anson converted by East-West, but was delayed by a D.C.A. demand that a flight deck bulkhead be fitted.
On 06 September, an official ‘opening ceremony’ was held at Tamworth Aerodrome for the new airline & the Tamworth-Sydney service. The official opening was made by the Director General of Civil Aviation.  At that ceremony VH-ASM was named ‘Hinkler’& VH-AYI was named ‘Smithy’.

On 30 September, East-West Airlines Ltd. was granted a full airline licence, to operate between Tamworth & Sydney.
During November, East-West Airlines applied for licences to operate between Sydney & Armidale, Brisbane, Glen Innes & Moree. On 22 December, East-West’s 3rd Avro Anson, VH-EWA (later VH-EWZ), began operations.  Ansons VH-BBI & VH-BKL joined the fleet in April, 1948 & VH-BDO on 18 August, 1948.
During 1947, Wollongong & South Coast Aviation Service Pty. Ltd. began operations.

On 19 April, 1948, East-West Airlines commenced Tamworth-Glen Innes-Brisbane services, after conducting a survey flight on 10 April.  This meant that it now indirectly operated Sydney-Brisbane.
The 1st service ex-Brisbane operated 20 April. During the financial year, ending 30 June, East-West flew 7,632 passengers & 7,473kg of freight. On 29 November, East-West Airlines commenced services from Armidale north to Glen Innes & Brisbane & south to Tamworth, Scone & Sydney.

On 05 March, 1949, East-West Airlines announced the purchase of six 2nd-hand, ex-RAAF, Lockheed 414 Hudsons, from Macquarie Grove Flying Service, Camden for a total of £6,000, including 15 spare engines & other spares.  Of the 6 aircraft, only A16-112 (later VH-BNJ & VH-EWA) was ever operated by East-West.  East-West had considered the purchase of Hudsons as early as June 1948. They took no action then, but chartered Curtis Madsen Aircrafts' Hudson VH-JCM on 18 January, 1949, to help move stranded passengers, when continuing rain disrupted Anson operations at Tamworth & had received very positive passenger feedback.  East-West purchased Curtis Madsen's 2 Hudsons (VH-JCM & VH-BKY (reregistered VH-EWB)) in late-1950.

During June, East-West commenced a car connection for Inverell to/from Glenn Innes. 
During the financial year, ending 30 June, East-West flew 19,196 passengers & 47,959kg of freight & made a loss of £6,260.
On 12 October, Anson VH-BDO crashed.  VH-BAB was temporarily leased from Queensland Airlines, to cover its operations.
During November, Wollongong & South Coast Aviation Service Pty. Ltd. was renamed South Coast Airways Pty. Ltd.
On 23 December, VH-BNJ operated East-West Airlines' first Lockheed Hudson commercial service, Tamworth-Sydney.  It was reregistered VH-EWA 21 March, 1951.

On 14 May, 1950, Lockheed Hudson VH-EWE operated East-West Airlines' 1st Sydney-Gunnedah-Sydney services.  The licence for the services had been granted the previous February.
During the financial year, ending 30 June, East-West flew 22,282 passengers & 125,113kg of freight & made a loss of £11,096.
During December, Lockheed Hudsons VH-EWB (ex-VH-BKY, later VH-EWS) & VH-EWE (later VH-EWR) joined the fleet.  With the arrival of the Hudsons, service to Armidale was relegated to a bus connection at Tamworth & Inverell a bus connection at Glen Innes.

During 1950, South Coast Airways began feeder services from Sydney to its south & west.  It initially served Jervis Bay, but later added Cowra, West Wyalong & Wollongong.

During the financial year, ending 30 June, 1951, East-West flew 20,284 passengers & 125,298kg of freight & made a loss of £6,378. On 27 October, VH-EWZ flew the last scheduled East-West Airlines’ Avro Anson service, when it operated Tamworth-Armidale-Glen Innes & return.  As Armidale could not support Lockheed Hudsons, services to Armidale were replaced by a car connection from/to Tamworth & Glenn Innes until 08 December, 1956, after which an upgrading of Armidale Airport permitted DC-3 operations there; from 10 December.
East-West Airlines Ltd., Eastwest Airlines (Operations) Pty. Ltd.

By 1952, Lockheed Hudsons operated 17 return Tamworth-Sydney-Tamworth services per week.
During the financial year, ending 30 June, East-West flew 26,403 passengers & 163,397kg of freight & made a loss of £6,128.

During the financial year, ending 30 June, 1953, East-West flew 28,533 passengers & 356,066kg of freight & made a profit of £6,374 - its 1st real profit.

On 22 July, East-West Airlines first DC-3, VH-EAM, bought from QANTAS Empire Airways Ltd., arrived at Tamworth.  It was reregistered VH-EWA in September. On 01 August, East-West Airlines purchased South Coast Airways Pty. Ltd. from Fawcett Aviation Pty. Ltd. & it became an East-West subsidiary.  South Coast operated Sydney to Boorowa, Canowindra, Cowra, Grenfell, Jervis Bay, Wollongong, West Wyalong & Young.  Avro Anson VH-BFN, their sole remaining Anson, was transferred to East-West’s fleet.

On 12 August, 1955, East-West ceased its car connection for Inverell to/from Glenn Innes, after East-West battled Ansett for route licence, which they won.  Air services directly to/from Inverell commenced 15 August. August,
On 15 August, East-West Airlines commenced services to Inverell from Sydney (7 services weekly) & Brisbane (2 services weekly) & extended their Sydney-Cowra service to Cootamundra.
On 19 August, East-West Airlines commenced a DC-3 service Tamworth-Inverell-Glen Innes-Coolangatta (on Fridays, with the return service on Saturdays).

On 22 August, East-West Airlines re-introduced a Tamworth-Newcastle service, using Lockheed Hudsons, 4 times per week.  The 1st service was operated by VH-EWE. During 1955 & in later years, East-West chartered Lockheed Hudson VH-SMM for unknown periods. By September, DC-3s had replaced Lockheed Hudsons on all but 2 return Tamworth-Sydney-Tamworth services per week.  The Hudson last appeared in their scheduled timetable in the 1st half of 1956.
On 22 November, East-West commenced services to/from Port Macquarie.  They lasted until 26 February, 1989.

Between July & December, 1956, East-West’s 3 DC-3s (VH-EWA, EWD & EWF) were converted from 21 to 28 seats.
10 December, upgrading of Armidale Airport permitted DC-3 operations there, replacing car connections to/from Tamworth & Glenn Innes, which had stopped 08 December.

On 28 September, 1957, East-West Airlines began serving Quirindi.
By January 1958, East-West Airlines served Sydney-Armidale, Sydney-Armidale-Inverell, Sydney-Cowra (with road connection to Young), Sydney-Gunnedah-Tamworth, Sydney-Inverell, Sydney-Inverell-Glen Innes, Sydney-Newcastle, Sydney-Quirindi-Gunnedah, Sydney-Quirindi-Tamworth, Sydney-Tamworth, Sydney-Tamworth-Armidale, Sydney-Tamworth-Inverell-Coolangatta-Brisbane, Sydney-Tamworth-Taree, Sydney-Taree-Port Macquarie (with road connection to Wauchope), Sydney-Temora-West Wyalong & Tamworth-Taree-Port Macquarie.
On 04 April, East-West Airlines commenced services Sydney-Lake Cargelligo-Condobolin services.  They initially operated Tuesdays, Thursdays & Sundays.

On 26 October, East-West commenced services to/from Stanthorpe.  They lasted until October 1965.
On 26 October, East-West commenced services to/from Warwick.  They lasted until September 1965, with a car service to/from Stanthorpe, until its services ceased the next month.

On 26 August, 1959, East-West Airlines’ 1st Fokker F.27 Friendship, VH-EWA ‘City of Tamworth’ commenced operations, Tamworth-Sydney. On its 1st day of operations, it operated Tamworth-Sydney-Tamworth-Quirindi-Sydney-Gunnedah-Tamworth.  In its 1st week of operations, it also operated to Cowra, Armidale, Inverell, Brisbane & Coolangatta; with Glen Innes being added later.By August, East-West Airlines had begun linking Stanthorpe & Warwick with Sydney, Armidale, Brisbane & Coolangatta, using DC-3s.

On 22 November, East-West Airlines began Brisbane-Coolangatta-Grafton-Newcastle-Sydney services, using F.27 VH-EWA.  Grafton services ceased on 25 June, 1988.
As F.27s replaced DC-3s, services to Warwick & Stanthorpe ceased, as their airports were not upgraded to F.27 standard.

On 14 February, 1960, East-West Airlines began Sydney-Armidale-Grafton services, using F.27 VH-EWA.
During April, the first of many attempts by Ansett Transport Industries to take over East-West Airlines Ltd. was rejected.

On 31 March, 1962, East-West Airlines wound-up South Coast Airways & repurchased their two Hudsons.
On 03 July, 1963, East-West carried its one-millionth passenger.

During September, 1965, East-West ceased direct operations to/from Warwick.  They were temporarily replaced by a car connection services between Stanthorpe & Warwick, until services to/from Stanthorpe ceased the next month.
During October, East-West ceased services to/from Stanthorpe.  In addition to Stanthorpe & Warwick requiring airport upgrades, to support larger aircraft, East-West’s subsidy for essential rural services had been cut from $52,000 to $24,000; causing a re-arrangement of the points served & a reduction in the frequency of the remaining essential services.

During October, Intrastate Airlines Pty. Ltd., a subsidiary of Kwikasair Freight Lines, made a takeover offer to East-West Airlines Ltd., which was rejected twice.
On 22 November, East-West commenced services to/from Kempsey.  They lasted until 25 June, 1988.

In January, 1967, a contract was signed with East-West Airlines Ltd. to maintain & operate aircraft for the New South Wales Health Commission. During October, East-West Airlines ceased services to Quirindi.

During March, 1970, East-West Airlines inaugurated ‘Gold Coaster‘ flights between Sydney & Coolangatta.
During September, East-West Airlines announced that it expected to decide its jet choice by the end of the month.  The choice was reported as being between the 74-89 seat BAC One-Eleven 475, the 75-80 seat DC-9 Series 10 & the Fokker F28 Mk. 1000, or 2000.  On 25 November, East-West Airlines Ltd. ordered one/optioned one BAC One-Eleven 475 jets, with operations to commence 01 April 1972, at a cost of some $3,600,000 each.  However, the order was later cancelled, at least in part due to the cost of upgrading some N.S.W. country airports.
On 19 December, East-West Airlines inaugurated flights between Sydney & Maroochydore; after the route had been awarded in October.

On March 6, 1973, East-West commenced a three-times-weekly Sydney-Alice Springs F.27 service.
From 01 April, East-West Airlines Ltd. took over the Adastra group of companies.  They were sold to Queensland Aerial Survey Co. P/L (QASCO) in 1976.

On 29 March, 1974, East-West Airlines acquired Civil Aerial Services Pty. Ltd.
From 15 June, East-West began weekly snow season F.27 operations Adelaide-Albury.  They were suspended on 28 September, but recommenced on 05 July, 1975.
During 1974, East-West Airlines took over QANTAS’ Sydney to Norfolk Island service.

From 05 July, 1975, East-West recommenced weekly snow season F.27 operations Adelaide-Albury.  They were suspended on 27 September & never restarted. On 20 November, 1976, Pacific & Western Aviation Co. Ltd. was renamed East-West Airlines (Operations) Ltd.  All operations transferred to the new company on 01 December. During 1977, East-West Airlines was awarded a five-year contract by New South Wales Government, for aerial surveying & photographing of the state. On 30 May, 1980, East-West Airlines announced an order for 2 Fokker F28 Mk. 4000s, plus 3 options. On 01 October, East-West Airlines began Norfolk Island-Auckland services, under a 2-year charter to QANTAS.


During 1981, East-West began a Newcastle (Williamtown)-Brisbane service.
By 1981, East-West was reportedly in serious trouble financially & continuing to lose money.  Brian Grey, then Executive Director Policy with Ansett, resigned & set up East-West Development Pty. Ltd, to attempt to take over the ailing East-West.

On 02 February, 1982, East-West Airlines began Albury-Melbourne services, using F.27s. in competition with TAA.
During July, Hazelton Air Services began operating on the Orange-Sydney route, previously operated by East-West Airlines.
On 16 August, East-West Development Pty. Ltd. assumed control of East-West Airlines.  Bryan Grey was appointed as Chief Executive of the airline & was given the right to purchase the balance of East-West Airlines' shares.  East-West Development Pty. Ltd. became the holding company & East-West Airlines (Operations) Ltd. a subsidiary company.  The total cost was a reported $8m. During 1982, East-West Airlines began F.27 services from Melbourne to Devonport & Burnie/Wynyard.

During 1983, Brian Grey set about challenging the Two Airline Policy in the High Court.  The attempt failed.  East-West Airlines also sought Federal Government approval to import two 155-seat McDonnell Douglas MD-80s.  The request was refused.
On 09 March, East-West Airlines began operating a cheap ($120) return fare between Melbourne & Sydney & v.v., via Albury.
On 10 July, Fokker F28 Mk. 4000 VH-EWA operated East-West's last Brisbane-Norfolk Is.-Brisbane service.
On 05 August, East-West Airlines introduced F28 Mk. 4000 services Sydney-Alice Springs-Port Hedland-Karratha.
On 04 October, East-West Airlines introduced four times weekly F.27 services Melbourne-Mt. Gambier-Adelaide.  The service ceased 22 May 1984, due to poor loadings.

By late-1983, East-West Airlines was reported to be suffering large financial losses.
On 14 December, East-West Airlines began Sydney-Devonport F28 Mk. 4000 (72-passenger) services.
On 16 December, Skywest Holdings Pty. Ltd., which was a subsidiary of Griffin Holdings, purchased East-West Airlines Ltd. from East-West Development Pty Ltd. (Bryan Grey & his partner Duke Minks).  The purchase price was a reported $25 to $35m, compared with the reported $8m for the purchase of East-West in 1982.


On 27 February, 1984, Skywest Airlines began Perth-Kalgoorlie & Perth-Geraldton services, using East-West F28s, in competition with Airlines of Western Australia. On 29 November, East-West Airlines commenced services in Western Australia, with their inaugural flight from Perth to Port Hedland; operated Fokker F.28s.
On 01 December, East-West Airlines commenced operating a Perth - Sydney service, via Yulara (Ayers Rock).  The routing was to avoid conflict with the Two Airlines Policy. However, Ansett & TAA challenged EWA’s right to operate the route anyway.

On 24 May, 1985, Skywest Holdings announced the proposed merger of Skywest Airlines & East-West Airlines.  However, this never took place, although some schedule rationalisation took place.
During 1985, East-West Airlines Ltd. applied to the Federal Government to import a Boeing 737 Series 200 aircraft & a Fokker F28 Mk. 4000 Fellowship.  East-West ordered one 737-200 in March, for delivery in November, but the order was later cancelled.

During July, 1986, East-West Airlines (Queensland) Ltd. was founded, to operate services within Queensland.
On 21 July, East-West Airlines began operations within Queensland, operating a Brisbane-Cairns F28 Mk. 4000 service (VH-EWB). East-West reportedly lost approximately $10m in 1986.

On 21 March, 1987, East-West Airlines began operating a Perth-Yulara (Ayers Rock)-Cairns service.
On 15 May, East-West Airlines announced plans to lease three 107-seat Fokker 100 jets from ILFC, in lieu of a planned lease of a Boeing 737-200; with deliveries in the first quarter of 1988.
Because of the takeover of East-West by TNT/News Corp, during July, 1987, they were never delivered.  However, their lease commitment remained until leased to Air uk in 1992.
In mid-1987 Skywest Aviation lost the Federal Government ‘Coastwatch’ contract; worth some $20m.  This & the losses being incurred by East-West Airlines severely weakened Skywest Holdings.
By that stage East-West reportedly had accumulated losses of $90m & debts of some $170m.
On 17 July, Skywest Holdings Pty. Ltd. & its subsidiaries (including East-West Airlines, Skywest Airlines & Skywest Aviation) were acquired by the Perron Group.

On 31 July, Skywest Holdings Pty. Ltd. was acquired by Bodas Pty Ltd. (T.N.T./News Corp.) from the Perron Group.
On 10 November, the arrangements for the divestment of non-East-West trunk operations components of Skywest Holdings Pty. Ltd. were announced.  This involved divesting East-West’s N.S.W. intrastate operations, with the exception of the Sydney-Tamworth & Sydney-Albury services, plus East West's shares in Eastern Australia Airlines & a reduction of their shareholding in Lloyd Aviation (Queensland) to a minority interest.
East-West's engineering base at Tamworth was retained.  The airline’s operating costs were sharply reduced by integrating its management, maintenance, reservations department, etc into Ansett’s.

From February, 1988, ground-handling was handled by Ansett.  East-West Airlines check-in/aircraft weight & balance was soon incorporated into Ansett’s Ansaboard Departure Control System.
On 01 June, East-West Airlines Ltd. took over Air N.S.W.'s Norfolk Island services.
On 25 June, East-West ceased services to/.from Grafton & Kempsey.  Eastern Australia started J31 Jetstream operations the next day.  East-West was supposed to cease services 19 June, but Eastern Australia wasn’t ready.
On 17 July, East-West ceased service to Glenn Innes, Inverell & Taree.  Eastern Australia commenced J31 Jetstream operations the next day.
During November the East-West Airlines crew lists were integrated into those of Ansett.

On 04 April, 1989, East-West terminated its services to Armidale; with the last service being operated by F.27 VH-EWP.  Eastern Australia commenced operations using Dash-8s.

On 04 September 1990, East-West Airlines (Operations) Ltd. was renamed Eastwest Airlines (Operations) Ltd. & holding company East-West Airlines Ltd. was renamed Eastwest Airlines Ltd.
Ansett sought to promote Eastwest as its discount, no-frills tourist airline.
On 05 September, VH-EWI operated Eastwest’s first BAe 146-300 commercial service, EW146 Sydney-Coolangatta.

On 18 January, 1992, Eastwest began operating Boeing 727-277LR VH-ANE, in Eastwest colors, initially operating 4 return flights daily Sydney-Coolangatta-Sydney.
On 07 May, it was announced that Eastwest Airlines would be merged into Ansett Australia, at some future date.
On 22 May, Boeing 727-277 VH-RMN began service with Eastwest.  It was withdrawn from service by Eastwest 18 April, 1993.
On 01 July, Eastwest’s administration, management & aircrew were absorbed into Ansett Australia.  However, Eastwest continued to operate as a separate airline, on a gradually-reducing basis.

On 31 October, 1993, the remaining operations of Eastwest Airlines were merged into Ansett Australia’s.  It was officially wound-up on 31 December.
Eastwest Airlines (Operations) Ltd. never made a profit & had reportedly lost some $244m in the previous 3 years.

On 01 January, 1994, Eastwest Airlines formally ceased to exist.

East-West/Eastwest served the following destinations, at some stage:

Adelaide, Albury, Alice Springs, Armidale, Auckland (for QANTAS), Bathurst, Boggabri, Brisbane, Burnie/Wynyard, Cairns, Canberra, Condobolin, Coolangatta, Cowra, Devonport, Glen Inness, Gunnedah, Hobart, Inverell, Karratha, Kempsey, Lake Cargelligo, Mackay, Maroochydore, Melbourne, Moree, Mount Gambier, Mt. Isa, Newcastle (Williamtown), Norfolk Island, Orange, Parkes, Perth, Port Hedland, Port Macquarie, Quirindi, Rockhampton, Scone, Stanthorpe, Sydney, Tamworth, Taree, Temora, Toowoomba, Warwick, West Wyalong & Yulara (Ayers Rock).

Information Source: Fred Niven

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