The company was founded in 1935 by Reg Ansett as Ansett Airways Pty Ltd. as an offshoot of his road transport business which had become so successful it was threatening the freight and passenger revenue of Victorian Railways. This led the state government to legislate to put private road transport operators out of business. Reg Ansett countered by establishing an airline as aviation was under control of the federal government and beyond the reach of the state government.
The airline flew domestically within Australia and from the 1990s to destinations in Asia. The airline was placed into administration in 2001 after suffering financial collapse, and subsequent organised liquidation in 2002, subject to deed of company arrangement.
Sir Reginald Myles "Reg" Ansett KBE died in 1981 and did not live to see the demise of his beloved airline.