TAA Sunbird Route Map 1967
The TAA New Guinea Expansion
TAA Sunbird Services Logo
The civil aviation story in New Guinea really began again in 1945 after the second world war, when Qantas took over the W R Carpenter Australia-PNG service and began flying Douglas DC3 transports.
Guinea Airways, the dominant pre war company, was refused a licence by the Australian Government, and never resumed PNG operations. They therefore concentrated on the Adelaide to Darwin route.
Eventually TAA purchased this group of routes from Guinea Airways in 1949
In March 1950, Qantas introduced the big four-engined Douglas Sky-masters between Sydney and Lae.
Qantas was itself forced out of PNG in 1960 by the Australian Government's Two Airline Policy which decreed that Qantas would fly only on international routes, and TAA and Ansett-ANA would operate the Australia - PNG route.
Before 1960, internal operations in PNG were conducted by Qantas and some independant operators, providing regular and charter services throughout the Territory.
Services to PNG were begun by TAA and Ansett-ANA on the 9th July 1960, along the route Sydney-Brisbane-Port Moresby-Lae using DC6B aircraft.
The Commonwealth Government then decided that Qantas should also transfer its responsibility for internal services, and TAA having acquired most of the Qantas assets, took over these operations on the 1st September 1960.
When TAA took over the internal network of PNG routes from Qantas, it introduced the logo TAA Sunbird Services for all their internal aircraft.
This acquisition from Qantas left Ansett-ANA at a serious disadvantage, corrected only when the company bought out Mandated Airlines and expanded its network.
Apart from passengers, the moving of cargo around the highlands of New Guinea was a major function of the airlines which operated there.
Because of the mountainous terrain in New Guinea, TAA Sunbird tried jet assisted take off (JATO) on their DC3 aircraft, to help in lifting loads in the high and hot climate. The photo below was taken in Lae with Capt. Bob Slater at the controls.
TAA got to know New Guinea well, and operated a modern fleet of prop-jet Friendships and Twin Otters over a network of nearly 10,000 miles, calling at more than 40 different centres.
These high wing aircraft offered picture-window views of the spectacular terrain from every seat. The terrain varies from dense tropical jungle to coastal Kunai grass, up to 15,000 ft. mountains and breath-taking valleys of the interior.
The 'Bird of Paradise' story.
The exotic and magnificently plumed Bird of Paradise is the symbol of TAA's regular 727 Whispering T-Jet services between Australia and Papua/New Guinea.
Just as this rare bird epitomises all the fascination of a tropic wonderland, TAA's T-Jet services were the finest example of modern jet age travel.
TAA's 'Bird of Paradise' service had the following offerings, Sydney to Port Moresby direct flight time 3 3/4 hours, Brisbane to Port Moresby direct, 2 3/4 hours, and a regular weekly prop-jet service up the Queensland coast via Rockhampton, Mackay, Townsville, and Cairns, and then to Port Morseby.