The company was first started by Reginald Ansett in 1935 as Ansett Airways Pty. Ltd. The business floated in 1937, but was contracting for the USAAF during the war. The post war years were marked with numerous acquisitions, including Australian National Airways (1957). The airline was also prosperous during the second half of the century, especially in the 1980s. However investments such as a share in the US airline America West (which filed for bankruptcy but survived) and its Hamilton Island resort (which went into receivership), performed badly. The company disposed of non-core assets and was the official sponsor of the 2000 Olympics, but liquidity problems forced the ailing business into closure unless finance was provided. On September 13, 2001, the firm was in administration. A day later, the fleets of Ansett as well of its subsidiaries Hazelton Airlines, Kendell, Skywest and Aeropelican were grounded. Air New Zealand, a half-owner of the airline, offered a settlement package worth A$200 million.
The closure angered customers and employees. One rescue plan was devised by businessmen Lindsay Fox and Solomon Lew. The plan was to re-introduce Ansett under new management structure known as Tesna Holdings (Tesna being 'Ansett' backwards). The reformed Ansett was in operation in time for the Summer holidays, but Tesna had difficulty in contractual arrangements and pulled out of recovering the airline; and without a potential buyer, there was no hope of Ansett being rescued. The last flight took place from Perth to Sydney on March 5, 2002, and leased Airbuses were sent to the airport at Mojave, California. The federal government introduced a ticket levy on all domestic flights within Australia for a time to raise money to pay the entitlements of former Ansett employees.
The failure of 'Ansett II' was worsened by the September 11 and the launch of the cut price domestic airlines, Impulse Airways (since acquired by Qantas) and Virgin Blue. The demise of the airline came at a time when the community was suffering from a worldwide business downturn due to numerous corporate failures, such as Australian HIH Insurance, and American companies Arthur Andersen and Enron.
Ansett New Zealand
Ansett New Zealand was closely related to its Australian counterpart, serving the New Zealand market. In 2000, Ansett New Zealand was renamed Tasman Pacific Airlines of New Zealand, operating under the Qantas name and brand. It went into receivership, and subsequently into liquidation, in 2001.