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MacAir Airlines
Ceased operationsJanuary 2009
HubsBrisbane Airport
Cairns Airport
Townsville Airport
Fleet size10
HeadquartersTownsville, Queensland, Australia
Key peopleTerry Byrt (Owner)

MacAir Airlines Pty Ltd[1] was a regional airline based in Townsville, Queensland, Australia. It operated scheduled passenger services throughout Queensland from major regional locations, as well as regular and ad hoc charters for the minerals industry in Queensland. Its main operations base was Townsville International Airport, with hubs at Cairns International Airport, Brisbane Airport and Mount Isa Airport.[2]

Macair Airlines

In January 2009, the airline was placed in receivership.[3]


MacAir Airlines was established and started charter operations in 1992 as McKinlay Air Charters, adding scheduled services in 1998. In May 2000 the Collings family sold the airline to Transjet, owner of Transtate Airlines. The two brands were merged and operated under the MacAir name. In November 2003 MacAir acquired Horizon Airlines. MacAir Airlines grew to become a major player in Australia's regional aviation network and played an important role in providing transport to both passengers and freight throughout regional Queensland.

Macair Airlines Fairchild SA227-AC Metro III at Sydney (Kingsford Smith) Airport

MacAir Airlines was based in Townsville. Staff were based in Townsville, Cairns, Mount Isa and Brisbane.

In 1998, the growth of the mining industry and MacAir Airlines' fly-in fly-out operations led to the expansion of the carrier and the introduction of passenger services in North Queensland. The year 2000 saw further expansion for MacAir when it merged with passenger airline Transtate Airlines and incorporated their Gulf of Carpentaria services under the MacAir banner.

The link between Townsville and Mount Isa was one of the busiest. Passenger volumes on this route serving the mining industry saw the company introduce its ATR 42-500 into service.

MacAir Airlines was a Qantas commercial partner. As such, the airline had worldwide distribution through the Qantas reservation system. This agreement between the two carriers gave passengers the ability to choose several options for booking tickets along with the ability to accrue and utilise frequent flyer points on a number of services.

On 29 January 2009, MacAir placed itself into voluntary administration; the following day major creditor Suncorp-Metway appointed Ernst & Young as receivers and the airline ceased operations. MacAir had previously asked the Queensland government for a $7 million one-off ex gratia payment, but the government refused, saying that MacAir had 'systemic issues.'[3] On 6 February, the business was closed by the receiver and its 200 employees dismissed.[4] The administrator wound up the business and sold off the company's assets; however the airline only owned a single aircraft as the others were all leased, as were the ground installations.[3]

Mac Air


At the end of January 2009 MacAir operated to the following scheduled destinations:[5]

  • From Townsville to:
    • Mount Isa (Mount Isa Airport)
    • Cloncurry (Cloncurry Airport)
    • Winton (Winton Airport)
    • Longreach (Longreach Airport)
    • Moranbah (Moranbah Airport)
    • Mackay (Mackay Airport)[6]
    • Emerald (Emerald Airport)[6]
    • Brisbane (Brisbane Airport)
    • Hughenden (Hughenden Airport)
    • Richmond (Richmond Airport)
    • Julia Creek (Julia Creek Airport)
  • From Cairns to:
    • Mount Isa (Mount Isa Airport)
    • Normanton (Normanton Airport)
    • Mornington Island (Mornington Island Airport)
    • Burketown (Burketown Airport)
    • Doomadgee (Doomadgee Airport)
    • Pormpuraaw (Edward River Airport)
    • Kowanyama (Kowanyama Airport)
  • From Brisbane to:
    • Moranbah (Moranbah Airport)
    • Townsville (Townsville Airport)
    • Oakey (Oakey Army Aviation Centre)
    • St George (St George Airport)
    • Cunnamulla (Cunnamulla Airport)
    • Thargomindah (Thargomindah Airport)
    • Charleville (Charleville Airport)
    • Quilpie (Quilpie Airport)
    • Birdsville (Birdsville Airport)
    • Bedourie (Bedourie Airport)
    • Boulia (Boulia Airport)
    • Mount Isa (Mount Isa Airport)

Charter Connections for Mining Companies from Townsville to
Osborne Mine Airport, BHP'sCannington Mine, and MMG'sCentury Mine, all in Queensland.


Over time the Macair Airlines fleet consisted of the following aircraft:[7]

  • 1 ATR 42-500[8]
  • 8 Fairchild SA227-DC Metro 23[9]
  • 7 Saab 340B (six second generation 340B and one third generation 340B+)[10]
  • 2 de Havilland Canada DHC-6 Twin Otter[9]
  • 1 British Aerospace Jetstream 41[11]

See also[edit]

Macair Aviation And Aero Club


  1. ^'Current details for MacAir Airlines Pty Ltd'. Australian Business Number Lookup. 12 August 2009. Archived from the original on 31 July 2013.
  2. ^'Directory: World Airlines'. Flight International. 10 April 2007. p. 46.
  3. ^ abc'Airline passengers stranded'. The Courier Mail. 30 January 2009. Archived from the original on 31 January 2009.
  4. ^'Regional carrier MacAir shut down with loss of 200 jobs'. The Courier-Mail. 5 February 2009. Archived from the original on 30 December 2012.
  5. ^(PDF) Archived from the original(PDF) on 31 July 2013. Retrieved 22 June 2008.Missing or empty title= (help)
  6. ^ ab'Archived copy'(PDF). Archived from the original(PDF) on 31 July 2013. Retrieved 7 October 2008.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  7. ^Australian civil aircraft register search, using 'Macair' as the search parameter. Search conducted 21 January 2009. Archived 27 September 2007 at the Wayback Machine
  8. ^'ATR 42/72 in Macair Airlines history'. Archived from the original on 31 July 2013.
  9. ^ abInquiry into commercial regional aviation services in Australia, Submission No. 76. House of Representatives, Standing Committee on Transport and Regional Services. 30 August 2002. Page 3
  10. ^'Saab 340 in Macair Airlines history'. Archived from the original on 31 July 2013.
  11. ^'Macair Airlines Fleet Details and History'. 4 August 2015. Retrieved 6 October 2015.

External links[edit]

Wikimedia Commons has media related to Macair Airlines.
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