Western Australian Airways



Known As: WA Airways

Full Name: Western Australian Airways Pty Ltd

Country: Australia

Call sign:  UNK

Objects in Collection

Brief History

In July 1919 Norman Brearley returned from the War with two Avro 504's and set up one of the first aviation businesses in Australia.

In 1921 the Commonwealth government awarded the first contract for a subsidised weekly air service in Australia to Brearley.

On 5 December 1921 his airline, Western Australian Airways, began Australia's first scheduled airline service between Geraldton and Derby in the Kimberley Region, a return distance of just under 2 400 miles.

In 1928 Brearley won a tender to operate a subsidised aerial
mail service between Perth and Adelaide in South Australia, a distance of 2,400 kilometres.

This meant the company operated from Wyndham to Adelaide,which is a total of over 5,300 kilometres. To operate this service the company purchased four de Havilland DH66 Hercules aircraft, each capable of carrying 14 passengers and considerable cargo, at a speed of 160 kilometres per hour.

Under the terms of  the contract Brearley was forced to buy aircraft from Britain, as there was a ban on American aircraft entering Australia.

While the Hercules were the best available at the time, they were slow, difficult to maintain and expensive to operate.                                      

In an attempt to improve the service, Brearley turned again to Britain and in 1931 bought two Vickers Viastra all-metal aircraft capable of 230 kilometres per hour. They were even less successful than the Hercules.                  

In 1929 Brearley's airline won the contract to provide a weekly return air service linking Perth and Adelaide in South Australia.

It was Australia's first trans-continental air service and the West Australian Airways services from Wyndham to Adelaide via Perth was one of the world's longest scheduled air routes.   
In 1930 the Geraldton and Derby service was extended to Wyndham in the north-west and two de Havilland DH61 eight-seaters were acquired to handle the ever-increasing traffic over the total route of nearly 3,000 kilometres.

In May 1934, West Australian Airways Ltd  lost the north-west service to  MacRobertson Miller Aviation and soon afterwards was told that the East-West service would no longer be subsidised by the Government.

Two Hercules had already been sold to Imperial Airways and the remaining two Hercules were used to  operate the Perth to Adelaide service until two de Havilland DH84, Dragon aircraft could be obtained.

It was hoped that these would prove more economical to operate and could enable a non-subsidised service to run at a profit.

One was sold in 1934 and replaced by a de Havilland DH89 Rapide, VH-UUO.

In 1935 the ban on American imports was lifted and the first of the all-metal, 320 kilometre per hour Douglas DC-2 aircraft were reaching the east coast airlines.

Brearley made a last ditch effort to keep up with the changing times, placing provisional orders for two Lockheed Electra aircraft, but when an offer was made by an eastern states consortium to buy his company, he took an option and sold out in June 1936 to Adelaide Airways.