By 1980 Qantas had retired its last Boeing 707s and was unique in having a fleet made entirely of Boeing 747s. This however only lasted until June 1985 when the first of seven 767-200ERs arrived. As with everything in the heavily regulated Australian aviation scene though, getting the aircraft was a bit of a fight...
In mid-1983 Australia's domestic airlines TAA and Ansett were still feeling the effects of the fallout from the 1981/82 recession and the entry into service during such an inopportune time of their widebody jets. TAA recognised that Australia's international airline, Qantas, was interested in purchasing its own 767s and saw an opportunity.
Even before the crisis both airlines had been worried and annoyed by the number of new international gateways in Australia which deprived them of huge amounts of money from passengers forced to fly domestically to the hubs at Sydney and Melbourne. The opening of Adelaide alone had cost them more than $9 million. TAA now proposed that both TAA and Ansett be allowed to operate regional international services under charter to Qantas using surplus widebody equipment in their fleets. TAA expected that 85% of the new proposed Qantas 767 routes could be flown with existing capacity and that it would allow Qantas to start the routes eighteen months earlier.
Unsurprisingly Qantas rejected the proposal out of hand and ordered its own 767s. Qantas wanted to use the 767s as the conerstone of its new strategy. They allowed Qantas to right size capacity on trans-Tasman and Pacific islands routes whilst also enabling the start of services from secondary Australian cities to Asia. The most important aspect was for them to operate into a new Qantas connecting mini-hub at Singapore. VH-EAL ‘City of Geelong’ was the third to arrive - the registration having previously been carried by a C-47 and an L-1049.
The 767-200s (VH-EAJ-O, Q) remained in service until 2003/04. EAL was retired in late 2003 having flown 57,300 hours and 24,527 cycles. She was sold and leased to Maxjet from July 2005 as N250MY but was returned to the lessor following their bankruptcy in December 2007. She operated several leases through the Swift Aviation Group but was sold to Boeing in June 2014.
Here's VH-EAL's history on Aussie Airliners.
I'm Richard Stretton: a fan of classic airliners and airlines who enjoys exploring their history through my collection of die-cast airliners. If you enjoy the site please donate whatever you can to help keep it running: