Ansett Is No More. Last Flight(s) posts here.

Old Mar 4, 02, 5:53 pm
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Ansett Is No More. Last Flight(s) posts here.

Touchdown, and Ansett is no more

March 5 2002

The last commercial flight for Ansett landed at Sydney Airport this morning ending almost seven decades of service.

Flight AN152 from Perth arrived at 6.42am (AEDT) with just over 100 passengers on board.

A welcoming party for the final guests was provided by the Sydney Airport Corporation, an Ansett spokesman said.

The failed airline went into administration in September last year.

Businessmen Solomon Lew and Lindsay Fox pulled their bid for the airline last week after takeover negotiations fell through.

Speaking during the final flight, pilot Geoff McDonald said it was a sad day for all Ansett staff.

"It's an end of an era, an end of a great company, a great Australian company and the staff now are faced with an uncertain future and unemployment after the end of this flight," Mr McDonald said.

"When I joined the company I'd reached the pinnacle of my career and we thought that this is a job for life and a job we would only leave when we're ready to retire.

"The last thing I expected was to end my career 12 years earlier than I'd planned."

The captain of the last ever Ansett passenger flight has described the event as the end of an era.

Geoff McDonald captained flight AN 152, which arrived at Sydney Airport at 6.45am (AEDT) filled mostly with journalists capturing the end of an era in Australia's aviation history.

Capt McDonald said it was a sad day for all Ansett staff, who were now faced with an uncertain future.

"When I joined the company I said I'd reached the pinnacle of my career and we thought that this was a job for life and a job that we would only leave when we were ready to retire," he told Channel Seven News.

"The last thing I expected was to end my career 12 years earlier than was planned."

About 50 Ansett workers and onlookers farewelled the plane from Perth at 11.50pm WST (2.50am AEDT).

It also received the traditional airport salute of water sprayed from fire engines as it taxied onto the tarmac, as the last post played.

The plane will return to Melbourne carrying only staff later this morning, where it will join dozens of other Ansett planes in storage.

Meanwhile, a few weary Ansett workers have met the last ever passenger flight into Melbourne.

Flight AN 170 from Perth landed in Melbourne on time at 5.45am (AEDT).

Several Ansett workers who had partied at the Melbourne terminal through the night as part of a series of wakes around the country waved passengers off the flight.

The captain of the flight, Mark Littley, said the last 24 hours had been emotional and he had not had time to contemplate his future.

"I was just commenting to my first officer, 'This is the last time we're going to be talking to Perth approach' and `This is the last time we're going to the talking to Melbourne approach', and things like that," he told ABC radio in Melbourne.

"I don't think it's really hit me at this point ... maybe in 24 or 48 hours when I actually get up and think well, hell, I'm not going to be able to go flying now, particularly for this airline."


A melancholy day for Ansett
By Julie Szego
March 5 2002

They were jobs the flight attendants had done hundreds of times; tedious tasks that for years made up the routine of their working lives. But as 7000 passengers flew Ansett for the last time yesterday, these tasks took on a certain poignancy.

And so flight attendant Marilla Watson sobbed quietly into a tissue as she scanned boarding passes for the last Ansett flight 2177 from Melbourne to Adelaide and then Perth.

The passengers filing past looked on sympathetically, some offering soothing words.

Her fellow attendant, Tamara Miller, pregnant and imminently jobless, asked if she should take over, but Ms Watson declined the offer and pressed on. Scanning and sobbing.

"That's it, game over," Ms Miller said. "It's heartbreaking, heartbreaking."

So heartbreaking that Captain Peter Balfe's voice choked over the intercom.

It was not a very happy day for staff but they would still perform their duties professionally and "try to keep smiles on our faces," he assured passengers.

His staff had spent many years with Ansett - in his case 31 years of service.

He thanked loyal customers who had supported the airline since it collapsed and went into administration last September.

"We, the staff, thought Ansett was going to flourish again. It was not to be," he said, referring to the hopes for Ansett's revival that dived last week when the Tesna deal fell apart.

His words brought applause.

Mr Balfe was surely thanking passengers like Jim Veza. For 35 years Mr Veza had taken about 20 flights a year with the airline.

He was determined to stick it out with Ansett in the hope that Tesna's backers, businessmen Solomon Lew and Lindsay Fox, would deliver.

About five weeks ago he bought tickets for yesterday's flight, then believing Ansett continuing was a "sure thing". He just made it.

"There's a feeling of quiet sadness," said Di Stewart who had flown in from Sydney earlier. On that flight, an attendant broke down during her safety demonstration and couldn't go on.

For most of the 1200 staff rostered on yesterday - counting down about 67 scheduled flights with heavy hearts - Ansett's death brings fear as well as nostalgic sorrow.

Mr Balfe says he has no choice now but to look for work overseas, and even there "it's difficult once you reach your 50s".

He found the groundswell of support for the airline, the dedication of staff and passengers, during the past few months touching. Even the airport traffic controllers tried whenever possible to make things easier; letting him "roll through" so time and fuel could be saved.

"It's tough, very tough, when you give your lifetime for a job," he said.

He had a few hours still to give - his last flight was the 8.45pm Perth to Melbourne route.

The cabin crew handed around Ansett brooches and videotaped one another.

Would Ms Watson, who started work at the airline seven years ago as a "baby" in her early 20s, cry throughout her last flight too?

"Probably," she said.

Ansett farewelled
From AAP

EXCLUSIVE Ansett passenger lounges became party zones last night when thousands of former staff members held wakes to farewell the dead airline.

Emotions ranged through sadness, bitterness, anger and resignation as thousands flocked into Ansett Golden Wing Lounges at capital city airports.
"People who used to work for the airline and left decades ago have turned up," Australian Services Union (ASU) Victorian president Martin Foley told AAP.

In Melbourne, the wake spilled over from the Golden Wing Lounge into the main terminal, Mr Foley said.

"It is impossible to tell how many are here - it seems like tens of thousands," he said.

"There is a lot of sadness about last night, because the feelings are so intense."

In Sydney, luggage trolleys were used to ship dozens of cartons of beer and about 100 pizzas up to the farewell bash.

Some couples wheeled in babies in strollers while others were in for a longer night and they had their own eskies in tow.

Ansett cabin crew training manager Jann Barry hugged and kissed her way down a long line of colleagues as they filed into the farewell bash.

She said it had been a tough six months since the airline first went down with 16,000 jobs but she said it was important to close off her career at Ansett with workmates.

"I wouldn't miss it for the world, it's a chance to say goodbye to everyone," Ms Barry said.

"It's a bit frustrating, we all believed we had the formula to make a success of the business but we didn't get the chance to really make it work."

Uniformed Ansett staff on Brisbane airport's tarmac jeered and angrily raised their middle fingers to an ill-timed Air New Zealand flight last night.

In what seemed an accidental act of gloating, an Air New Zealand plane took off just as the last Ansett flight began to pull out.

The thousands of employees attending the doomed airline's wake booed and jeered.

Air New Zealand, the former owner of Ansett, was widely blamed for the airline's collapse after placing it in voluntary administration last year.

Brisbane Airport general manager Kathy Bowman delivered the eulogy to employees.

"Sixty-six years of flying and each of you, right to the very end, held your heads high," she said.

"Don't remember the bad times or the dark days you've had in recent times. Take the friendships and the memories of better times with you.

"Remember the good days of Ansett."

Ansett's death sentence was declared last week when millionaire businessmen Lindsay Fox and Solomon Lew made a last-minute exit from their purchase deal.

About 16,000 people lost their jobs when the airline initially collapsed last September, and the 3,000 re-employed to keep the planes in the air while the Lew-Fox purchase was negotiated lost their jobs for a second time last night.

Ansett's last passenger flight, packed to capacity by media groups, leaves Perth at a quarter to midnight (WST) and is scheduled to arrive in Sydney at 6.45am (AEDT).

The aircraft will then fly out again 25 minutes later with the final flight AN 4051 ferrying crew back to Melbourne scheduled to arrive at 8.40am (AEDT).,00.html

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