1940s Aircraft

We have lift off

In August 1939, the historic delivery flight of the first TEAL aircraft from Belfast to Auckland established a better connection by air with the British Empire. Known as the Aotearoa, the plane was a Short Brothers S.30 Empire-class flying boat. In April 1940, Tasman Empire Airways Limited (TEAL) - later to become Air New Zealand - went into business.

On 30 April 1940, Aotearoa took to the skies for TEAL's very first commercial passenger flight - and also the first regular trans-Tasman mail delivery - a journey from Sydney to Auckland that took nine hours.

The introduction of the Awarua ZK-ANC, TEAL's second S.30, enabled Auckland to Sydney flights to begin twice a week. With this development, the ever-important Royal Mail could be received much faster.

By the end of the decade, TEAL had opened a sales office in Auckland's Mechanics Bay, and was flying up to seven return trips a week between New Zealand and Australia.

National Airways Corporation (NAC) officially began operations in New Zealand during 1947. The country's primary domestic service, the airline later merged with Air New Zealand to align international and domestic air travel more closely.

The histories of both TEAL and NAC form the foundations of Air New Zealand today.

1940s advertising

A creative history

TEAL's early advertising graphics epitomise the style of the time, with many of the designs showcasing Maori art and culture.

The illustrations also reflect the joint ownership of TEAL by New Zealand, Australia and Britain.

1940s uniforms

A military inspired look

The first six TEAL stewardesses were hired in 1946. During the flight, nurse-style uniforms were worn to represent safety and reliability. Epaulets on male and female crew indicated rank and reinforced the military origins of the airline. The ground wardrobe consisted of thick wool, double breasted overcoats and black leather gloves. Caps were worn to ensure passengers could easily identify the crew.

1940s on board

The first creature comforts

After purchasing two Short flying boats and several other aircraft in the 1940s, TEAL added four Short S.45 Solent Mk IV flying boats to the fleet - a defining move in customer comfort.

The Mark IV was the last of the flying boats to be designed by the Short Brothers, and TEAL had them produced to its specifications. There was room for 45 passengers on two decks, which were linked by a spiral staircase.

The fittings set a new standard. Everyone had a reading light and an air vent, and the new seats boasted winged headrests and antimacassar to keep the greasy hair creams of the time from marking the upholstery.

This represented a shift in the way the public saw air travel. Flying began being seen as an enjoyable, safe and desirable activity, similar to a travelling aboard a cruise liner.