Death Of Mr Donald Moreton Kendell, AM

About this Item
SpeakersMaguire Mr Daryl; Face Mr Jack
BusinessPrivate Members Statements, Condolence


Page: 17452

    Mr MAGUIRE (Wagga Wagga) [10.55 a.m.]: On Saturday evening Wagga Wagga lost one of its finest citizens with the death of Donald Moreton Kendell AM, aviator and founder of Kendell Airlines. Those who knew Don closely were aware that he had been ill for some time. His illness was not something he broadcast but those closest to him certainly were concerned about his health and wellbeing. Don was diagnosed with cancer some two years ago and underwent an operation. As a community we certainly were blessed to have him with us for an extra two years.

    Donald Moreton Kendell was born in Geelong on 19 January 1930. He learnt to fly at age 19 in 1949 at the Wagga Wagga airfields. He spent a period in the Royal Australian Air Force Reserves spending time flying Tiger Moths touring western Victoria and Australia on an odyssey looking for work. He went to England in 1955, sat for and passed his commercial pilot's licence, and began working for British European Airways, initially flying DC3s out of Glasgow and then Viscounts from London. While in the United Kingdom he met and married Eilish Burke. Don, his wife and son Guy returned to Lockhart, which was the area farmed by his father, Ebenezer, who for many years after World War II was the State member for the Corowa electorate. Don and Eilish had three further children, Mary, Sarah and Miles.

    In 1965 he moved to Wagga Wagga to become involved in a small general aviation operation. He later purchased that operation and incorporated it in 1967 as Premiair Aviation, an air charter and flying school. In 1968 regional airlines were permitted to go into business but Mr Kendell waited and in 1971 Kendell Airlines carried a total of 36 passengers on its 10 return flights. Don and Eilish Kendell did all the jobs from ticketing and fuelling the aeroplanes to everything imaginable associated with running an airline to get their business started.

    As the business progressed the fuel crisis hit. Don Kendell sold his car to keep his airline. He acquired better planes and built Kendell Airlines into a world-renowned airline. In fact, in 1992 Kendell Airlines was named regional airline of the year by International Aviation, which was a credit to Don and Eilish Kendell. Don had many achievements in his life. He was a staunch supporter of the city of Wagga Wagga. With his airline he certainly helped to make the city vibrant and he always took the opportunity to promote it. He based his airline at Wagga Wagga and, of course, this gave the area enormous benefits.

    Don's passing has created great sadness for the community. It is important that I relay to honourable members the feelings of Don's staff and the people who knew him. In a newspaper article one of Don's staff members said that Don still cared for the staff, even though he was no longer the director of Kendell Airlines. I have no doubt that the recent demise of Kendell under the Ansett-Air New Zealand banner weighed heavily on Don's shoulders, but he was still concerned about the staff. One staff member said to me, "A few days ago Don rang me to see how I was going because he was concerned. He said that he was still thinking about other people." He loved his staff and they loved him. I extend condolences to Don's family, his four children and his wife, Eilish. Don Kendell's achievements in Australian aviation have been great. He is one of those people who lived his dream. He owned, operated and built a first-class airline. I do not think we will see another Don Kendell for many years to come. I express my condolences to his family at this sad time.

    Mr FACE (Charlestown—Minister for Gaming and Racing, and Minister Assisting the Premier on Hunter Development) [11.00 a.m.]: I thank the honourable member for Wagga Wagga for his fitting tribute to the late Don Kendell. I met Don Kendell several times over a period of many years. On the first occasion, when I met Don at the Albury races, he was still acting in an advisory capacity after Kendell Airlines had passed from his ownership. Don Kendell was a pioneer aviator, not so much in pioneering aviation but in pioneering routes in country New South Wales. When the big airlines such as Ansett and Trans Australia Airlines ceased operating in country New South Wales that area would have been without any air services if it had not been for people like Don Kendell.

    Don Kendell made a significant contribution in country New South Wales. Don, a caring man, was always concerned about Kendell Airlines. As I said earlier, I met Don on a few occasions, but I did not know him very well. When I first started visiting the Coma area many years ago Kendell Airlines was flying from the southern part of the State and from Victoria—routes along which no-one else wanted to operate. As the honourable member for Wagga Wagga said, Don Kendell will be missed. He made a significant contribution to this State. On behalf of the Government I extend condolences to his wife and his family.