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What really happened?

Back in 1990 the then Hawke government deregulated the Australian domestic aviation market. Compass was the first new start up player in the deregulated market and the first to take on the duopoly of Ansett and Australian Airlines (formerly TAA, now merged with Qantas).

Set up by Bryan Grey (of EastWest fame) the airline used Airbus A300 aircraft to fly cheap no-frills services along the east coast. Compass received generous financial support from the Queensland state government and established it's base at Coolangatta. After several months of struggling throughout 1991 the airline went under as the big established airlines with their pre-eminence in the market place and their firm hold on available infrastructure (i.e. gates) put Compass under enormous commercial pressure which it was unable to withstand.  One of the problems experts attributed the failure to was the use of a large wide-bodied aircraft, which were difficult to fill to capacity during off peak times.  When the crunch came it was swift and sudden, with Compass ceasing operations almost overnight.

Later Compass Mk II set up using the Compass brand and many of the Compass Mk I staff. This time McDonnell-Douglas MD-80 aircraft were used.  It was hoped that smaller aircraft would be able to maintain higher load factors.  Once again the big players applied the competitive blow torch to the belly of the new comer and Compass was unable to last. In many cases travelers with Compass faced spartan conditions. In Adelaide for example the only terminal space made available to Compass was an old maintenance hangar. Once again the established big players used their market share and their long term lease arrangements with airports to make life tough for a new start up.  Once again the demise was swift, and the Compass name, although well known to the traveling public, may have proven a hindrance rather than a help.

After the folding of Compass Mk II it was not for nearly a further 10 years that a new company appeared on the Australian domestic aviation scene with the arrival of Virgin Blue as a start-up and the expansion of regional carrier Impulse into a trunk route carrier, and it's subsequent metamorphosis into Jetstar..

Bryan Grey died of cancer on 8 May 2001.

Compass New Zealand

Compass in it's original guise only flew in Australia. Compass NZ is purely a fictional extrapolation of what might have happened had Compass continued to operate. Both Virgin Blue and Jetstar have flights across the Tasman and PacificBlue operates a network in the Pacific Islands.

Compass Fleet

Detailed below are the fates of aircraft in the real life Compass fleets.

Compass Mk I
Compass Rego Type Current Carrier Current Rego
VH-YMA A300-B4 605R Airbus (pre-delivery) F-WWAU (no photos)
China Northern B-2309 (no photos)
Pacific Airlines S7-RGO (no photos)
Air Wagon S7-RGO
Air Nuigini S7-RGO (back in Sydney!)
Vietnam Airlines S7-RGO (back in Sydney again!)
VH-YMB A300-B4 605R Olympic Airways SX-BEM
VH-YMI A310-304 Airbus (pre-delivery) F-WWCP (no photos)
Ward Air C-FWDX
Canadian C-FWDX
Royal Canadian Air Force 15003
VH-YMJ A300-B4 605R Monarch G-MONR
VH-YMK A300-B4 605R Monarch G-MONS
Aircraft not taken up (due to lack of finance in 1990)
VH-YMC A300-B4 605R Thai HS-TAL
VH-YMD A300-B4 605R    
VH-YME A300-B4 605R    
Compass Mk II
Compass Rego Type Current Carrier Current Rego
VH-LNJ Santa!
MD-82 Scandinavian LN-RLF
VH-LNK MD-82 Scandinavian LN-RLG (still in Compass livery)
Reno Air N844RA (no photos)
Allegiant N891GA
VH-LNL MD-82 Scandinavian LN-RLR (still in Compass livery)
VH-LNH MD-83 Transwede SE-DPU (note the Compass livery)
Spanair EC-FXA
VH-LNI MD-83 Trans World (TWA) N9409F
American Airlines N9409F
Aircraft not taken up (due to corporate collapse in 1992)
VH-LNM MD-83 Far East Air Transport B-28011
VH-LNN MD-83 Trans World (TWA) N9406W
American Airlines N9406W


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