27th December, 1951
NZAMC 389 a – f
After making proving flights to the South Pacific the previous month (NZAMC 385 a – f) TEAL inaugurated its Coral Route service.
The flights carried passengers and mail from Auckland to Papeete in Tahiti via Suva (Fiji) and the beautiful Aitutaki in the Cook Islands. The Solent could take about 45 passengers on their two decks and was really an exclusive service for the wealthy including silver service, powder rooms and an onboard chef who cooked meals to order.
The pic below is of Aitutaki. The island in the middle is Motu Akaiami which was the site of TEAL’s terminus.
The pic below is of the Aranui
at Aitutaki. You can still see the Aranui
all restored at Auckland’s MOTAT museum.
And finally on to the mail!
The air letter below is an example of NZAMC 389c
and was carried by the Aparima
on the inaugural service.
Someone has noted “no authority number” on the back – if anyone has any further info on this then please let me know
In 1953, over this route, TEAL became the first commercial airliner to carry a member of the royal family, Queen Elizabeth II, who journeyed in one of the Solent’s from Suva to Lautoka and return, and then on to Tonga.
The development of the Coral Route set TEAL on the path to becoming the international airline that Air NZ is today.