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Kendell Airlines began as a small charter and flying school business in Wagga Wagga, NSW. Don and Eilish Kendell became partners of that business in 1965 and in 1967 incorporated the business as Premiair Aviation Pty Limited. They expanded the business to include charter services, a flying school and aircraft maintenance services. Premiair prospered. On 18 October 1971, Premiair commenced its first regular service with a seven seater Piper Navajo on the Melbourne-Corryong-Wagga Wagga route when Ansett withdrew its DC3 services on the route. The agreement began a long and fruitful relationship between the two airline companies. Premiair's success allowed it to take over routes from other smaller operators but also routes from Ansett where larger aircraft proved uneconomical. The mid to late 70's and 80's saw expansion of routes and aircraft. Riley Heron aircraft were added in 1975 and 1977 and in late 1978 the first pressurised turbine Fairchild Metroliner was acquired.

The network continued to expand and in 1983 and to further distinguish the company and capitalise on Don and Eilish Kendell's reputation, the name was changed to Kendell Airlines (Aust) Pty Limited.

In February 1985 Kendell took delivery of a Saab 340, the first in the southern hemisphere. In 1986 Kendell took over Ansett's South Australia network, an acquisition that virtually doubled its network.

In 1990, Don and Eilish sold out of Kendell Airlines and it became part of the TNT/News Group of companies which were closely associated with the Ansett Group. Kendell in association with Ansett continued to grow its network resulting in Kendell becoming one of the largest regional airlines in Australia.

By the late 1990's, Kendell operated more than 1,000 flights a week and carried nearly 1 million passengers per year. Kendell was put into administration upon the collapse of Ansett on or about 12 September 2001. It resumed partial services from Thursday, 27 September following a cash injection of $3.5M from the Federal Government and its passenger airline business became part of the Rex Group on 1 August 2002 by way of transfer of assets and certain liabilities pursuant to a deed dated 1 August 2002.