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Hazelton and its founder Max Hazelton were pioneers of ‘bush aviation’. Hazelton started in 1953 when Max Hazelton acquired a single engine Auster Aiglet aircraft and provided charter services to stock and station agents from his brother-in-law’s property at Toogong, some 50 km west of Orange, NSW. Max then acquired more aircraft to undertake freight and newspaper carriage, aerial agriculture operations and the provision of essential services, such as emergency medical evacuations, for rural NSW. In 1959 the enlarged company moved to its own airfield at Cudal, about 40 km from Orange.

The 1960s and 1970s saw Hazelton become one of the largest aerial agricultural operators in Australia. In 1975 Hazelton began its first scheduled passenger flight from Orange to Canberra. Within three years, rapid growth of scheduled passenger services and continued success of other services made Hazelton the largest general aviation company in Australia.

Growth continued. In 1979 Hazelton started flying into Sydney. In the early 1980s Hazelton introduced modern pressurised turbo-prop aircraft and in 1983 linked itself to Ansett’s computerised reservations system. By 1993, when Hazelton became a publicly listed company on ASX, it carried some 250,000 passengers per year, had 15 aircraft and employed approximately 170 staff based in Cudal, Sydney, Dubbo and Lismore. After its listing on ASX, Hazelton continued to grow and by 2000 was carrying over 400,000 passengers per year and earning revenue of around $69M per year.

In 2001, Hazelton was at the centre of a very public takeover battle between Qantas and Ansett. Ownership of Hazelton eventually passed to the Ansett Group. However, on 12 September 2001 Ansett was placed into voluntary administration along with its subsidiaries including Hazelton. Hazelton recommenced operations a week later and its passenger airline business became part of the Rex Group on 1 August 2002.