Southern Airlines

IATA Code: -

ICAO Code: -

Known As: Southern Airlines

Full Name: Southern Airlines Ltd

Country: Australia

Call sign: -

Objects in Collection

Brief History

On 27 April 1955 , Southern Airlines Ltd. was registered.
During April, Melbourne-Echuca services began.

On 02 May, Southern Airlines Ltd. commenced operations - initially a bi-weekly charter service Melbourne-Balranald (later extended to Moulamein & Euston), to convey kangaroo shooters, as required.

On 12 May, the 1st fully-licensed Melbourne (Essendon)-Echuca-Balranald service was operated.
Three weekly return services were initially scheduled.

On 13 May 1955, a new prospectus was issued, seeking to raise £250,000 in £1 shares.
The new company acquired the assets of Southern Airlines Pty. Ltd.

On 24 May, the Victorian Transport Regulation Board recommended that Southern Airlines be granted a license to operate from Melbourne to Benalla, Shepparton & Corowa & from Melbourne to Sale & Bairnsdale.

During July, Southern Airlines began services from Melbourne to Sale & Bairnsdale & a replacement Avro Anson for VH-GVB was acquired; becoming VH-GVD.

On 26 August 1955, the Company’s 1st Dove, VH-GVE, arrived at Essendon, from W.A.  The Company’s 2nd Dove, VH-GVF, arrived from Perth the same day.

In the meantime, the Ansons served Echuca five times weekly & Balranald three times weekly.
By the end of 1955, Southern, using D.H.104 Doves VH-GVE & VH-GVF, served Melbourne-Sale-Bairnsdale, Melbourne-Warrnambool-Millicent-Adelaide & Melbourne-Kerang-Swan Hill.

Services from Melbourne to Shepparton & Benalla & from Melbourne to Euchuca & Balranald were suspended for the winter.  They also announced plans for a Melbourne-Tocumwal service.

On 06 February, 1956, Avro Anson VH-GVA was sold to Carswell Air Services (Casair), as, with the arrival of the 2nd Dove, it had become surplus to requirements.

On 21 February, Melbourne-Benalla-Shepparton & Melbourne-Warrnambool services began.  The 1st Melbourne-Warrnambool service carried one passenger.  Its return service carried none.
During May, Melbourne-Benalla-Shepparton & Melbourne-Echuca-Balranald services were suspended, as the local strips were closed, due to unprecedented wet weather.

On 03 August 1956, a new Melbourne-Tocumwal service commenced.

On 12 November, Melbourne-Kerang-Swan Hill services began, after A.N.A. transferred their route to Southern Airlines.

The service extended from Swan Hill to Balranald twice weekly.
During November, Shepparton was included in the Melbourne-Tocumwal route.  It was later extended to Wagga Wagga, for a period.

In late-February, 1957, a twice weekly Melbourne-Flinders Island-Launceston service was commenced.

During March, the Melbourne-Warrnambool service was extended to Naracoorte & Adelaide, with three services per week (Mon/Wed/Fri). On 13 June, the Melbourne-Shepparton-Tocumwal-Wagga Wagga service ceased, due to continuing losses.

In the yearly financial report to 30 June, the Company reported a loss of £28,825 15s 6d, with losses blamed on lack of support by local councils & shareholders in areas served & increased costs due to
the unreliability of & lack of spare parts for the Doves.  In fact, as the financial year ended & for three months of the new financial year, the Company had only one serviceable aircraft, as VH-GVE was undergoing a complete wing main-spare replacement.

On 17 July 1957, Anson VH-GVD was sold to Flinders Island Airlines.

The new timetable, effective 7 October, included both Doves & increased scheduled frequencies.  However, new D.C.A. regulations reduced the Doves’ passenger capacity from 9 to 8 seats.

Under the Airlines Rationalisation Act 1957, the airline was granted a subsidy, on what were referred to as ‘development routes’, subject to many conditions, one of which was the need for aircraft upgrades, preferably to DC-3 standard, which was well beyond the Company’s financial capacity.
In November 1957, Sale was dropped from the Melbourne-Bairnsdale services.

In late-1957, the Company announced that it was purchasing two D.H.114 Herons from New Zealand National Airways Corp. (NZNAC) at a total cost of £72,000, with the 1st aircraft due at the end of the year & the 2nd to follow two months later.

During January 1958, the 1st D.H.114 Heron VH-GVH was introduced into service; followed by VH-GVI in March, with Southern being considered as the accepted air carrier for services from Melbourne-Flinders Island-Launceston, Melbourne-Warrnambool-Millicent-Naracoorte-Adelaide & later Warracknabeal.

A smaller subsidy was provided for the Melbourne-Kerang-Swan Hill-Balranald service.  The introduction of the Herons triggered the subsidies sought under the Airlines Rationalisation Act 1957.

On 14 March, a 4-nights-weekly Melbourne-Adelaide Heron freight service (for Adelaide-based freight company Cockings Ltd.) & daily Melbourne-Naracoorte-Adelaide passengers services, commenced.

With the introduction of the 2nd Heron, the two Doves were relegated to back-up status.  One Dove VH-GVF eventually became unairworthy & was not repaired.

VH-GVE continued to operate services, as required.  Around August, both Doves were put up for sale, with plans to purchase a 3rd Heron, on which an option was held.

On 25 June 1958, it was announced that Millicent would ‘soon’ be added to the Melbourne-Adelaide service.  ANSETT-ANA, which served Millicent from Mt. Gambier, quickly announced that they would extend their Melbourne-Hamilton service to Naracoorte & Adelaide, to directly compete with Southern.

The introduction of direct competition by ANSETT-ANA proved disastrous for Southern Airlines, as the 1957 Rationalisation Act stated that “no subsidisation shall be applied to any route or part thereof over which there is competition between two or more operators”.  Without such subsidies, Southern could not hope to continue to operate. 

In early-July, it was disclosed that the Company had reapplied to the DCA for the re-instatement of their subsidy, under their “assistance to operators of essential rural air services”.

One report at the time suggested that they had applied for a yearly subsidy of £50,000 & that, if not forthcoming, the Company would cease operations.

On 10 July 1958, the Federal Cabinet refused to re-instate the subsidy & Southern Airlines announced that their services to Bairnsdale would cease that day.

On 11 July, the Company announced that it would continue to operate other services, whilst applying for a sizeable fare increase, extend its Melbourne-King Island service to Launceston, slightly reduce its staff numbers & make a new approach to the Federal Government on subsidies.

On 18 July, the Melbourne-King Island service was extended to Launceston; operating 6 times weekly.  Millicent was included in the thrice-weekly Melbourne-Adelaide passenger services.

On 25 July, amid rumors of the Company ceasing operations, it was announced that an unnamed resident of Naracoorte had provided funds to allow operations to continue.

In August 1958, services from Melbourne to Bairnsdale were 'temporarily suspended'.  They never recommenced.

During October, Southern extended their Melbourne-Kerang Swan Hill service to Warracknabeal.  Only one, or two, flights were operated.

On 30 October, press reports suggested that the Company’s Board would meet later that day, to decide whether to sell out, or wind up the Company.

On 30 October, Melbourne-Kerang-Swan Hill services ceased.

On 31 October, it was announced that the Company would cease all services the next day & that discussions were taking place with A.T.I. on the possible purchase of some assets, particularly the routes.

On 01 November, 1958, Southern Airlines ceased operations.
 Its routes & some other assets were sold to ANSETT-ANA on 22 December, for £30,000