Hazelton Airlines



Known As: Hazelton Airlines

Full Name: Hazelton Air Services Pty Limited

Country: Australia

Call sign: Hazelton

Objects in Collection

Brief History

Hazelton Air Taxi & Charter Service, Hazelton Air Services Pty. Ltd., Hazelton Airlines Ltd.
During late-1953, Hazelton Air Taxi & Charter Service, founded by Charles Maxwell ‘Max’ Hazelton & his brother Jim, began operations, using Auster J/5F Aiglet VH-AFK,( purchased with £2,500  loaned by his mother).  The initially one-man operations consisted mainly of charter & air-agriculture/crop-spraying work, initially based at his parents’ property at Lowery, Toogong, NSW, but soon moved to the Willow property; some 2km away.

In January, 1954, Auster J/5G Autocar VH-ADY was added to the ‘fleet’ & Max’s younger brother, Jim, joined the operation.  VH-AFK was lost in October; being replaced by VH-KSJ the next month.
In 1959, the Company’s name was changed to Hazelton Air Services Pty. Ltd &, later that year, its base was moved to Cudal; some 40km from Orange.  The operations included air charters, barnstorming, newspaper flights & air-ambulance services, although air-agriculture work was responsible for most of its operations.

On 24 October, 1966, Hazelton Air Taxi & Charter Service acquired Boorowa Air Services.

In February, 1969, Hazelton Air Services acquired Hazair (agricultural services) at Orange.

During 1971, Hazelton Air Taxi & Charter Service acquired Westair Aviation Services.

In January, 1975, Piper PA-31 Navajo Chieftain, VH-DMV, ordered the previous month, joined the Hazelton Air Services’ fleet; their 1st twin-engined type.

On 02 May, Hazelton Air Services Pty. Ltd. began airline operations, using Piper Navajo VH-DMV, with daily return services from Cudal (Orange), NSW to Canberra, scheduled at 40 minutes, with an optional stop at Cooma,.  These services connected with Ansett jet services to Melbourne, allowing return same-day travel, with ground handling at Canberra provided by Ansett.
Hazelton then commenced agitating for an Orange -Sydney licence, which was continuously refused by the NSW Transport Board, due to East-West holding the Orange-Sydney route licence.

During 1977, an Air Traffic Controllers’ strike provided Hazelton with a great opportunity to show what it could do, providing charter flights from various country towns to Sydney, Melbourne & Brisbane.  Various NSW communities subsequently identified the need for additional services, based on their Hazelton experience. 
The Cudal airstrip was sealed & night landing lights installed.

An office opened at Mascot.  Hazelton aircraft flew bank documents from various NSW towns to Sydney weekdays.
Hazelton had become the largest general aviation company in Australia, with a staff of 60, 31 aircraft; performing charter flights, air ambulance work, aerial-spraying, fire-fighting & freight flights.

From 11 December, 1978, Hazelton, after repeated unsuccessful requests for a licence for scheduled services, announced daily return Navajo charter flights Cudal-Sydney-Cudal. However, only spasmodic charter flights were operated, until they obtained their licence in October 1979, following a review of all NSW licences. 

The NSW Transport Board were threatening up to $50,000 fines, if Hazelton didn’t comply with the Act & operated regular flights without a licence, but noted they would be reviewing the route licences in NSW. The Commonwealth Government was not involved, as they had issued Hazelton their licences to operate Orange-Sydney.

In August 1979, the Department of Transport approved the extension of the Orange-Canberra service to Dubbo.  Dubbo services began 29 October. On 29 October, Hazelton operated the first licensed, scheduled service Cudal-Sydney, with a frequency of twice daily.

In May, 1980, Hazelton’s 1st Beech Super King Air, VH-MXK, was added to the fleet; being used mainly for airline services & mining charters.  Super King Air VH-MZV joined it in September 1981.

Whilst they were mainly used for mining charter work, they were also used on scheduled Cudal-Sydney-Sydney services, with their speed & comfort, when compared with the Navajos, were enjoyed by passengers. However, changes to oil industry requirements & the introduction of the 2-pilot rule for such aircraft, led to their sale in 1983 and 1984, respectively.
In June 1980, Hazelton introduced Cessna 550 Citation II twin-jet VH-UOH, for charter work. 

It was capable of operating from small airstrips. There was a long delay in the delivery of the aircraft & other problems for Hazelton led to a decision to sell the aircraft a few months later.

During the early-1980s, Hazelton Air Services operated a fleet of 16 aircraft - mainly Cessna 310s & Piper PA-31s.

On 18 April, 1982, Hazelton finally began services between Orange & Sydney, after a long fight for a licence.  They took over the service from East-West.  The initial service was 3 return flights per day.
On 19 April, Hazelton took over the Sydney-Gunnedah route from Avdev Airlines.
By mid-1982, Hazelton was carrying some 1,200 passengers a month Cudal-Sydney.
By September, Hazelton were operating Condobolin-Cudal-Sydney, Cudal-Orange-Sydney, Cudal-Sydney, Dubbo-Cudal-Orange-Canberra, Gunnedah-Sydney, Orange-Cudal-Dubbo, Orange-Sydney-Orange-Cudal & Sydney-Orange.

In January 1983, Hazelton began services to/from Nowra, after Southern Cross Airways Nationwide withdrew.
During May, Hazelton & Air New South Wales operated a combined regular daily service Sydney-Mudgee-Sydney, with Air New South Wales operating the morning services & Hazelton the evening services.
Approximately 16 December, Hazelton Air Services Pty. Ltd. began trading as Hazelton Airlines Ltd.  The 16 December timetable showed the new title.

During 1983, Ansett & Hazelton Airlines signed a commercial agreement on reservations & ground-handling.  Hazelton linked itself to Ansett’s ANSAMATIC reservations system.

With the traffic on the Orange-Sydney route, in particular, growing at a very fast pace, a decision was made to look for a larger aircraft type.  After months of investigations, the 18-seat Embraer
EMB-110 Bandeirante was chosen.

In January 1984, Hazelton’s first Embraer EMB-110 Bandeirante, VH-WPI, was added to the fleet.  A 2nd ‘Bandit’, VH-WPE, joined it in June 1988.

During October, 1986, Hazelton Airlines began services from Sydney to Temora & West Wyalong. , in line with the 1986 ‘Flying Towards 2000’ report on the future of services at Mascot.
The number of services was increased, connecting at Cudal with Canberra & Sydney services.

During March-July, 1988, Hazelton Airlines took over services from Sydney to Bourke, Brewarrina, Cobar, Cootamundra, Cowra, Forbes, Nyngan, Parkes & Young from Eastern Australia Airlines (after Ansett’s take-over of East-West, which partly owned Eastern Australian Airlines) & the rulings by the Trade Practices Commission) & replaced Air N.S.W.’s services from Sydney to Coonabarabran, Coonamble, Lightning Ridge & Walgett, with services based on Dubbo.  During the year Hazelton’s route network jumped from 11 to 25 destinations.

By mid-July, Hazelton was now serving 25 destinations; with 50 pilots, with thirteen Piper Navajo Chieftains (5 more had been added), plus two Bandeirantes & three Cessna 310s, to handle the new/additional services.

During May, Beech 1990C VH-JHP was ordered.  But delays certification (it entered service 12 November, 1989) led to the ordering of Hazelton’s first Shorts 360-300 (VH-MJU), which entered service in December.

In the financial year ending 30 June, 1988, Hazelton carried 63401 passengers.
In December, Hazelton’s first 36-seat Shorts 360-300, VH-MJU, joined the fleet; being joined by VH-MJH in September 1989.  The Shorts 360 served Dubbo & Orange to/from Sydney, with Navajo Chieftains connecting at Dubbo, providing feeder services to/from smaller destinations.

Hazelton had earlier been awarded the Sydney-Moruya licence & in late-1988, Hazelton began services to Merimbula.

The early-1989 fleet consisted of one Shorts 360-300, two EMB-110P1 Bandeirantes & 13 PA-31-350 Navajo Chieftains.
In the financial year ending 30 June 1989, Hazelton carried 105,106 passengers – a spectacular rise from the previous year’s 63,401 passengers.

During September, Shorts 360-300 VH-MJH, joined the fleet.
On 12 November, Hazelton finally introduced their sole Beech 1990C, VH-JHP, into service, Sydney-Albury.  It proved very expensive to operate, &was sold in August, 1991.
During 1989, Hazelton introduced NSW packaged tours, including a Top Ten Skytour package, offering 70-minute scenic flights to one of 10 landmarks around Sydney.

During the Pilots’ Dispute, starting in September, Hazelton continued to operate, beginning services to Albury, Brisbane, Broken Hill, Coolangatta, Griffith, &Melbourne, using the 36-seat Shorts 360s.
In December, Hazelton placed a provisional order for two 36-seat DHC-8s.  But problems & delays led to them ordering Saab 340s & cancelling the DHC-8 order.

During 1990, Air N.S.W./Ansett N.S.W. transferred services to Broken Hill, Griffith, Merimbula, & Narrandera to Hazelton Airlines, as a result of N.S.W. air service deregulation rulings.

After the Pilots’ Dispute ended, Hazelton were awarded exclusive rights to service Broken Hill, Griffith & Narrandera.
As a result of the rapid expansion of its airline operations, Hazelton had evaluated pressurised 30-seat aircraft, including the DHC-8, Embraer EMB-120 & Saab 340. & finally selected the Saab 340B.  An order for two, with two options was announced at the Singapore Air Show in February 1990. 

Two Saab 340As, VH-OLG & VH-OLH, were leased from Saab Aircraft Credit, Inc. from April & May, respectively, pending delivery of Hazelton’s own  Saab 340Bs, VH-OLM & VH-OLN, which arrived in October.  VH-OLH was returned to Saab in October, but VH-OLG remained with Hazelton until the following April.  Initial Saab 340 operations, based at Sydney, served Albury, Dubbo, Narrandera, Broken Hill & Orange.  Saab services to Griffith were added in June.

In the financial year ending 30 June, 1990, Hazelton carried 172,350 passengers.

 On 22 April, 1991, the airline began Sydney-Bathurst services.

During July 1991-June 1992, Hazelton carried 202,035 passengers, serving Albury, Bathurst, Brisbane, Broken Hill, Cobar, Coolangatta, Cudal, Dubbo, Griffith, Merimbula, Moruya, Mudgee, Narrandera, Orange, Parkes, & Sydney.

However, by September, rural NSW was in crisis, with wool & wheat prices crashing. Because of the war in Iraq, fuel prices jumped from some 80 cents to $1.60 per litre.  Rural customers significantly reduced their travel.  Hazelton found many of its Navajo Chieftain flights, in particular, with few passengers. 

Hazelton, like all similar airlines around the nation, suffered accordingly & was in severe financial difficulty, with operational losses of some $350,000 per month.  Crisis talks with State & Federal Governments, to try to reduce crippling fuel taxes & landing charges, were to no avail.  Hazelton, faced with bankruptcy, was forced to reduce services, particularly those operated by Navajo Chieftains, & staff.

On 06 September, Hazelton ceased services to 14 destinations.  Services to/from: Bourke, Brewarrina, Coonamble, Lightning Ridge, Nyngan & Walgett were taken over by Dubbo-based Air Link, from 09 September 1991.  Air Link used Navajo & Cessna 310R aircraft, & the Hazelton ZL flight designator, to offer a seamless service to/from Sydney, via Dubbo. 

The other destinations dropped were to Coonabarabran, Cootamundra, Cowra, Forbes, Gunnedah, Quirindi, Temora, & Young, which went to other operators, at various periods.

Five Navajo Chieftains, the two Bandeirantes & the Beech 1900 were sold & staff reduced by 60.  That accelerated Hazelton’s move towards the use of larger aircraft.

During 1992, their fleet consisted of 2 Saab 340Bs, 2 Shorts 360-300s, 9 PA-31-350 Navajo Chieftains, with options held on 2 Saab 340Bs & 2 Saab 2000s.

On 21 December, Saab 340B VH-CMH, which had arrived at Cudal only on 16 December, entered Hazelton service; giving them 3 Saab 340Bs.

On 21 December, Hazelton Airlines commenced Sydney-Lismore-Casino services, which had previously been operated by Ansett Fokker 50s.  The route had been awarded after strong competition from Eastern Airlines. Hazelton’s proposal included providing 3 services per day, employing 14 local people (including pilots & flight attendants) & overnighting an aircraft at Lismore.  It meant Hazelton required an additional Saab 340B (VH-CMH), which was introduced the same day.

On 04 March, 1993, Hazelton’s 4th Saab340B, VH-LHI, entered service.

On 09 March, Hazelton commenced Sydney-Wagga Wagga services.

On 15 March, Hazelton Airlines commenced Sydney-Armidale services & extended its Sydney-Albury service to West Sale, Vic., operating as a triangular route including Traralgon.

The $900,000 cost of upgrading of Traralgon’s strip from Piper Navajo to Saab 340 standard was paid for 50/50 by the Victorian Government & the Morwell & Traralgon councils.

On 20 March, the company commenced Sydney-Moruya-Merimbula-West Sale-Launceston services, using a Shorts 360.  It ceased in October 1994.

On 18 April, Hazelton switched commercial allegiances from Australian Airlines to Ansett, moving to the Ansett terminal at Mascot, with ground-handling provided by Ansett.
On 05 July, Hazelton Airlines commenced Sydney-Traralgon/Morwell services, operating a triangular service including Albury & Sale (West).

During September, Hazelton’s first Fairchild SA227 Metro 23, VH-DMI, entered service.  Metro 23s VH-DMO & VH-HCB followed in December 1994, & VH-HWR in January 1995.

During November-December, Hazelton became a publicly-listed company on the Australian Stock Exchange (ASX) & issued a public float, to raise $10m.  The money raised was designed to improve gearing & to retire debt resulting from the cost of starting the Wagga Wagga & Armidale services, including the extra Saabs & the purchase a Metro 23 ($6 million) & a Shorts 360 ($5 million), of a total debt of some $22.7 million. 

As it turned out, the Company made a $1.5 million profit in the December 3-months, but proceeded with the float anyway, using the money to cover the two new Saab 340s.  The float proved very popular, with the $1 shares reaching a $3 value, before dropping to $2.50.  They later dropped to some 60 cents.

This resulted in the airline having 17 million shares, with the Hazelton family now holding about 35% of the shares.  The airline then flew 4 Saab 340Bs, 2 Short 360s, 1 Fairchild Metro 23, 6 Navajo Chieftains & 2 Cessna 310s.   It operated to 23 destinations & was carrying around 250,000 passengers per year & employing some 170 staff; based at Cudal, Dubbo, Lismore, Merimbula, Sydney & Wagga Wagga-Albury.  Max Hazelton reviewed their plans & decided to replace the two Shorts 360s by Saab 340s, & to order a 2nd Fairchild Metro 23.

For the 9 months to 30 June, 1994, Hazelton Airlines made a net profit of $3.54 million, helped by increased passenger numbers & lower-than-expected fuel costs.  The Company paid an interim dividend of 3 cents & a final dividend of 6 cents, per share, for the 9 months.  The Directors added another 3 cents to the dividends paid.

On 10 July, Saab 340B VH-TCH joined the Hazelton fleet; giving them five Saab 340Bs.  The introduction of VH-TCH allowed Hazelton to overnight an aircraft at Traralgon, & operate an early morning Traralgon-Albury-Sydney service & to operate more flights to Armidale, Wagga Wagga & West Sale.

By mid-1994, Hazelton was carrying some 333,000 passengers per year (some 60% of which was from the business market), with 5 Saab 340Bs, 2 Shorts 360s, a Metro 23 & 7 Piper PA-31 Navajo Chieftains.

In October, Hazelton terminated its weekly Sydney-Moruya-Merimbula-West Sale/Traralgon-Launceston services.
For the 6 months to 31 December, Hazelton made a pre-tax profit of $2.591 million, on revenues of $27.5 million; having carried 189,000 passengers (up 6.2%). Included in the calculations was a loss of $63,000 on the sale of Shorts 360 VH-MJU, which actually operated with Hazelton until 13 July, 1995.  During that period services to Cobar were transferred to Air Link, based at Dubbo.  Three Metro 23s & a Saab 340B were ordered, a Piper Navajo Chieftain sold & two more listed for sale, as part of Hazelton’s plans to move away from Navajo Chieftain RPT operations.

In the 1994 financial year, the company carried 330,000 passengers, up from only 60,000 a decade earlier.
On 23 December, Saab 340B VH-SBA joined the Hazelton fleet, giving them a type fleet of six.
During December, Fairchild SA227 Metro 23s VH-DMO & VH-HCB joined VH-DMI.

During January, 1995, Hazelton’s 4th & final Fairchild SA227 Metro 23, VH-HWR, entered service.
On 19 February, Hazelton Airlines began twice-daily Sydney-Geelong (Avalon) services.
On 30 June, Hazelton’s Sydney-Geelong (Avalon) services were terminated; due to lack of patronage; having, reportedly, lost some $2 million in just 19 weeks.

By June, passenger numbers per year had increased some 43,000, to 376,000.
On 13 June, Shorts 360 VH-MJH was withdrawn from scheduled service, but was used for charters, until sold in October 1997.
On 13 July, Shorts 360 VH-MJU was withdrawn from scheduled service & used as a ‘spare’, until sold in September 1997.

On 30 June, 1996, Hazelton ceased serving West Sale.
During the 1995-1996 financial year, Hazelton carried some 392,600 passengers (an increase of 4.3%), for revenue of $57.76 million (an increase of 5.9%).  However, the Company wrote down the value of the two Shorts 360s & 4 Metro 23s by $5.275 million; giving a loss of $2.461 million.
During August, Hazelton terminated services to Brisbane & Coolangatta.  Services resumed 26 July, 1997.

On 08 June, 1997, Hazelton Airlines ceased Albury-Traralgon services.
On 26 July, Hazelton Airlines re-introduced services to Brisbane & Coolangatta; operating Sydney-Orange-Dubbo-Coolangatta-Brisbane.
During October, Saab 340A VH-ZLY joined the Hazelton fleet.  It was joined by Saab 34A VH-ZLZ in December; giving Hazelton three Saab 340As.

By 1998, the fleet was 3 Saab 340As, 6 Saab 340Bs, 4 Metro 23s & 2 Piper PA-31-350 Navajo Chieftains & Hazelton was carrying some 416,000 passengers per year.

On 03 January, 1999, Hazelton Airlines terminated Sydney-Mudgee-Sydney operations & sold their last PA-31 Navajo Chieftain.

During April, Ansett Australia & Hazelton Airlines signed a 5-year agreement, under which Hazelton would be Ansett’s sole preferred N.S.W. carrier, except where Ansett operated its own services.

By 2000, Hazelton was carrying well over 400,000 passengers per year, flying to over 20 destinations, employing around 280 staff; with revenue of around $69 million per year.

During March, Hazelton Airlines began Sydney-Tamworth services.
On 26 March, Saab 340B VH-OLL entered Hazelton service; their 7th & final Saab 340B.
During October, Ansett Australia Holdings advised that it had purchased Max & Laurel Hazelton’s 20% of Hazelton Airlines shares (for $1.35 per share), via Bodas Pty. Ltd. & intended to purchase the balance of shares of, Hazelton Airlines, launching a $15.3 million takeover bid. 

Other major Hazelton shareholders included Skippers Aviation (25%) & Truegrip Aviation (10%).  That led to a prolonged battle with QANTAS (which upped Ansett’s initial bid of 90 cents per share to $1.20 per share); not won until March 2001, when the Australian Companies & Consumer Commission (ACCC) approved Ansett’s bid.

During 2000-2001, Hazelton was forced to reduce services to Albury & Wagga Wagga, due to increased competition from QANTAS.

During March, 2001, Ansett Australia Holdings advised that they had control of some 90% of Hazelton shares & would purchase the balance, via Bodas Pty. Ltd.
All shares were purchased by 08 May, for a total cost of $25 million.
During early-mid 2001, it was planned that the ex-Kendell Saab 340A VH-LPI would be leased to Hazelton to cover the repainting of their Saabs in Ansett-type livery, after returning from a lease to Air Nelson.  The plan did not proceed.
On 01 July, Hazelton Airlines commenced Sydney-Port Macquarie services.

On 01 July, Kendell Airlines increased its Sydney-Albury & Sydney-Wagga Wagga return services to 27 per week, while Hazelton reduced theirs to 6 & 7 services, respectively, as part of an operational rationalisation.  In turn Hazelton increased its Sydney-Ballina-Sydney services to 19, whilst Kendell reduced theirs to 7.

At 00:30 AEST Friday 14 September, all operations by Hazelton Airlines were suspended by Ansett’s administrators, PricewaterhouseCoopers.

On 21 September, Hazelton recommenced limited operations from Sydney-Orange-Griffith & Sydney Dubbo-Broken Hill.
Hazelton commenced Sydney-Canberra services on 28 September and by early-October were operating all of its previous routes, except Sydney to Casino & Traralgon.

On 28 September, Hazelton Airlines commenced Sydney-Canberra operations.
By 03 October, Hazelton had resumed operations to most of its destinations, but had advised that it would not resume services to Casino, or Traralgon/Morwell.

On 09 October, a separate administrator was appointed for Hazelton Airlines, to avoid any possible conflict of interest for the sale of each airline.

On 21 October, Hazelton announced its plans to sell its four 19-seat Metroliners & operate only Saab 340s.
On 01 November, Hazelton suspended operations from Sydney to Tamworth & Armidale.
On 15 November, Hazelton Airlines began operations from Sydney to Coffs Harbour, via Ballina & Sydney to Port Macquarie.
On 08 January, 2002, Hazelton Airlines ceased operations on their Sydney-Tamworth & Sydney-Armidale routes.
Late 17 February, Hazelton ceased operating its Sydney-Canberra, Sydney-Albury & Sydney Wagga Wagga services.
On 07 May, Australiawide Airlines were named as the preferred bidders for the purchase of Kendell Airlines & Hazelton Airlines.  After prolonged discussions, it was announced on 26 June that the sale had been approved by the board of the new company.  An agreement of sale was signed on 28 June.  The contract was completed on 01 August.

On 06 August Kendell Airlines & Hazelton Airlines began operating as Regional Express Airlines (REX), with 21 Saab 340s & 8 Metro 23s transferring to the new airline.

At some stage, Hazelton served the following destinations:

Albury, Avalon (Geelong), Armidale, Ballina, Bathurst, Bourke, Brewarrina, Brisbane, Broken Hill, Canberra, Casino, Cobar, Condobolin, Coonabarabran, Coonamble, Coolangatta, Cootamundra,  Cowra, Cudal, Dubbo, Forbes, Griffith, Gunnedah, Lightning Ridge, Launceston, Leeton, Lismore, Melbourne, Merimbula, Moruya, Mudgee, Narrandera, Nyngan, Orange, Parkes, Port Macquarie, Quirindi, Sydney, Tamworth, Temora, Traralgon-Morwell, Walgett, West Sale, West Wyalong & Young.

Hazelton Air Taxi & Charter Service, Hazelton Air Services Pty. Ltd., Hazelton Airlines Ltd Fleet
(Excluding agricultural only aircraft, where identified).
Auster J/5 VH-ADY(2), AFK (3), KSJ.     ****

Beech Super King Air VH-MXK, MZV(1).

Beech 1900C H-JHP.


Cessna 310 VH-BDY, CML, DVH, DVN, IBM, KOM, MXY, RIX, UJF.  **

Cessna 550 VH-UOH.  **

DHC-8 Hazelton placed a provisional order for a DHC-8, in 12/89.  But problems & delays led to them ordering Saab
340Bs & cancelling the order.

Embraer P110 VH-WPE, WPI.

Fairchild SA227 Metro VH-DMI, DMO, HCB, HWR.

Piper PA-23 Aztec VH-AVE(2), CMH(1).       **

Piper PA-24 Comanche VH-PAO.      **

Piper PA-28 Cherokee VH-EJF, MUK.     **

Piper PA-30 T/Comanche VH-ESH, ESI, TOD.     **


Saab 340A VH-LPI), OLG, OLH, ZLY, ZLZ.


Saab 2000 Hazelton had an option on two Saab 2000s, which were never taken-up.

Shorts 360-300 VH-MJH, MJU.

*** Many of the smaller types above probably never operated airline services

Information Source: Fred Niven