Above: ZK-AMA takes off prewar. For lots more photos like this and info about TEAL's flying boats go to this great post at the flyingboatforum.
TEAL did begin to move away from the age of the flying boat in 1951 when it began leasing Qantas DC-4s to operate a Christchurch-Sydney service, but at the same time it was also expanding its flying boat routes. In June 1950 it took over National Airways Corporation's Auckland-Suva service, then it began Wellington-Sydney and in December 1951 introduced the famous 'Coral Route' to Tahiti via Suva and the Cook Islands. These new services were flown with the 5 Shorts Solents.
The DC-6s were fitted with 48 day seats which could convert to 37 sleepers. Briefly they gave BCPA an ascendency over Pan Am. In the end BCPA could never overcome the ownership constraints from its many masters (like TEAL it was owned by the Australian, New Zealand and UK governments). Finally in October 1953 BCPA's fate was sealed.
It was agreed that BCPA should be wound up. The deal was a complicated one but basically QEA acquired the Pacific routes and BCPA's 3 options for De Havilland Comets. The UK government gave up its shares of both BCPA and TEAL, the NZ government gave up its share of BCPA, and TEAL gained the three remaining BCPA DC-6s (VH-BPE was sadly lost on October 28 - for more info see here). Though a sad day for the staff of BCPA, which had provided excellent service across the Pacific since 1948, for TEAL it was a new beginning.
Above: ZK-BGA. Photo from Ed Coates always superlative site here.
The 3 DC-6s became ZK-BFA, BFB and BFC but were re-registered as BGA-C in 1956. They enabled TEAL to consolidate its place on the trans-Tasman services and introduce new routes to Melbourne in 1957 and Brisbane in 1959. Only one Shorts Solent was kept in service after 1954, to ply the Coral Route. This aircraft, ZK-ANO 'Aranui' continued to fly the service until September 1960 when DC-6s tookover this service using the land strip at Bora Bora. By then however the DC-6s themselves were old news as TEAL had already taken delivery of its new Lockheed L-188 Electras.
The completion of a new airport nearer Tahiti's capital of Papeete allowed the Electras to takeover the Coral route and all three of the DC-6s were passed to the Royal New Zealand Air Force for use as troop transports. ZK-BGC 'Arahia' became NZ3633 but was sold on in 1965. She went to Canada for Pacific Western where she became CF-PWQ. In 1971 she joined Mercer Airlines as N90MA was converted to an aerial tanker and served with many operators until July 1994. Used for parts in Chandler, Arizona her cockpit was shipped to Finland and has been restored.
The departure of the DC-6s coincided with TEAL becoming wholly New Zealand owned and a new era for aviation in New Zealand. From 1961 TEAL would be competing with Qantas and BOAC on the world stage not co-operating, but that would still give it plenty of opportunities.
MacPherson, R. Airways - The first 50 years. 1936-1986
Moore, H.M. Silver Wings in Pacific Skies: Australia's First Trans-Pacific Airline
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: