Life Travel Bids continue to fly in the fight for Ansett memorabilia on eBay
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Bids continue to fly in the fight for Ansett memorabilia on eBay

Ansett was a much-loved Australian airline that flew into administration in 2002. Photo: Getty
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Sellers on eBay are cashing up on Ansett memorabilia, with aviation fans spending more than $500 on collectables from the former Australian airline. 

The New Daily found more than 150 Ansett memorabilia items such as cutlery, banners, plane models and rare postcards.

Item listings include a rare 18-piece set of knives, forks and dessert spoons selling for $65, while plane models are selling for more than $580 and vintage posters for almost $400. 

Dr Peter Bruce, airline operations expert at Swinburne University, said he wasn’t surprised that rare Ansett items were so sought after by fans. 

“I remember the day when Ansett collapsed, and it was pretty catastrophic for the Australian airline industry,” Dr Bruce told The New Daily.

“It doesn’t surprise me that we’re seeing these Ansett items pop up on eBay, and we’ll continue to see them on there because the airline had such a huge impact on its staff and passengers,” he said.

Airline Intelligence Research managing director and former Qantas chief economist Dr Tony Webber said aviation memorabilia topped the list of the most sought after collectables. 

Rare Ansett items are selling for exorbitant prices. Photo: eBay

“There’s quite a deep subset of the population that are really into aviation,” Dr Webber told The New Daily.

“Ansett memorabilia are basically antiques for collectors,” he said.

Dr Webber said there was an “overwhelming emotional attachment” to the airline.

“There was so much disbelief when the airline collapsed and it will always be remembered as an incredibly sad day for Australian aviation,” he said.

Ansett: The airline’s history

It’s been almost 17 years since the collapse of Ansett Airlines, which sparked devastation among thousands of its staff and passengers.

It carried more than 14 million passengers a year and had an annual turnover of more than $3 billion by the time it was placed into administration in 2001.

Founded in 1935 by Sir Reginald Ansett, it was Australia’s second-largest airline and operated for more than 65 years.

In 1937, the airline setup its headquarters at Essendon Airport, Melbourne, and launched a service to Sydney. 

In 1942, the airline assisted in the evacuation of Darwin after it was repeatedly bombed by Japanese forces. 

A decade later, it introduced a flying boat service in Queensland.

In 1957, the airline bought the Australian National Airways (ANA), which was the biggest airline in the country at the time, and changed its name to Ansett-ANA. 

Ansett employees gather to protest at Sydney Airport in 2001. Photo: Getty

The airline then introduced its first Boeing 727-100 in 1964 and moved its operation to Tullamarine, Melbourne, in 1972. 

A year later, it began replacing the Boeing 727-100s with newer aircraft such as the Boeing 727-200s.

In 1979, News Corporation Limited and TNT Limited took control, then two years later Sir Reginald died, aged 72. 

Between 1983 and 1988, Ansett introduced the Boeing 767-200 with 211 seats, the 737-300 with 110 seats and an Airbus A320-200 with 144 seats.

In 1991, the airline became the first to launch a frequent flyers program in Australia, then two years later flights commenced to Bali.

In 1997, the airline joined the Olympic Airlines Team Partnership to promote the Sydney Olympic Games, and a year later the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) provided approval for the the airline to form an alliance with Air New Zealand and Singapore Airlines. 

In 1999, the airline replaced its Boeing 747-300s with two Boeing 747-400s, and it became a full member of the Star Alliance, then in 2000, Air New Zealand moved in to take full ownership. 

But on March 4, 2002, the company was wound up, bleeding $1.3 million a day, with administrators KordaMentha appointed to finalise the matters of the nation’s most high-profile aviation collapse. 

Monash University Professor Greg Bamber, who has researched airline performance in Australia and overseas for more than 15 years, said the collapse of Ansett was a “devastating blow” for Australian aviation.

“Thousands of people lost their jobs and more than 20 of those committed suicide following the demise of Ansett,” Professor Bamber told The New Daily.

“Many people might have positive memories looking through rose-coloured spectacles, but we can’t forget the other side of the coin and what the collapse did to so many families and passengers,” he said.

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