QANTAS's History

Qantas has the distinction of being the oldest airline in the English-speaking world, and has the second oldest surviving airline name in the world - KLM Royal Dutch Airlines being a year its senior. It began out of a frustration with long-distance cross-country travel in outback Australia, a missed opportunity to enter a major air race, and a considerable amount of enterprise by two WW1 pilots with the backing of some outback station owners. The two former Australian Flying Corps pilots from World War 1, seeking sponsorship funds to enter the England to Australia Air Race of 1919, were promised help from industrialist Sir Samuel McCaughney. Their misfortune was that he died before they found a suitable aircraft.
The two, W. Hudson Fysh and Paul McGinness, then accepted work surveying the race route between Katherine, in the Northern Territory, and Longreach, Queensland, dropping supplies on the way, using a Model T Ford. The trip itself was a pioneering effort, and it convinced them that there was a role for air transport in Australia. They completed an airstrip and waited to greet the race winners, Ross and Keith Smith, in their Vickers Vimy, when they landed on 10th December, 1919.
Fysh and McGinness began seeking financial backing for an air service, finding it in the form of wealthy grazier Fergus McMaster, whom McGinness met when he stopped to help him recover his vehicle, which had broken an axle. McMaster, for his part, enthusiastically championed their cause among his business connections.
The pair, with their former mechanic, Arthur Baird, then set up business with an order for two Avro aircraft (only one being delivered), at Mascot Aerodrome, Sydney, New South Wales, in August 1920. From their initial company name, The Western Queensland Auto Aero Service Limited they quickly became Queensland and Northern Territory Aerial Services Limited - Q.A.N.T.A.S. - formally established on 16th November, 1920.
The following year, their fleet consisted of two ex-military Avro 504K biplanes and a Royal Aircraft Factory BE2E. McGinness and Baird flew joyriding and demonstration flights, the aircraft remaining serviceable in harsh outback conditions thanks to Baird's skills.
McGinness left the company to take up farming in 1922, the year in which QANTAS realised a need for larger aircraft for its service between Charleville and Cloncurry. Fysh flew this route, and piloted the first official airmail service in Queensland. In 1926, QANTAS became the only airline known to have built its own aircraft, turning out their first DH50A in August. It was also the first time an overseas designed aircraft was license-built in Australia, a practice which became customary for Australian military aircraft built by CAC (Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation) and other companies much later. A year later, Qantas achieved another 'first' - erecting Australia's first private aircraft hangar in Brisbane, Qld.
As Qantas' domestic routes expanded across Queensland and the Northern Territory, the Qantas aircraft and pilots brought with them social changes. Canned foods on outback stations were augmented by fresh fruit and fish; station women's drab, functional clothing could be shelved for modern fashions on special occasions, beer droughts were broken, yesterday's newspapers were available, and new movies were shown in tin-shed cinemas. The pilots became idols to kids and a desirable "catch" as husbands. A new joke (supposedly based on an actual event) began circulating, playing on phonetic similarity to the name "Qantas". Asked "Who was Pontius Pilate?" in Sunday school, a bright lad replied, "He's the bloke who flies the Qantas mail plane."
Driven by the Rev. John Flynn, the Australian Aerial Medical Service was formed in 1928, based at Cloncurry, Qld. Qantas contracted to provide aircraft and staff, and Arthur Affleck became its first permanent pilot, with Sydney surgeon K. St. Vincent Welch providing the medical expertise. In 1942 the service became the Flying Doctor Service, adding a Royal Charter in 1954, by which it operated under Trans Australia Airlines (TAA). Qantas moved its headquarters to Brisbane in 1931. When the 1934 merger of Britain's Imperial Airways and QANTAS created Qantas Empire Airways, founder W.Hudson Fysh served as managing director and chairman. Qantas linked with the Imperial portion of the route to Britain at Darwin, NT. Overseas services began with a route to Singapore - a four-day trip - using DH-86 biplanes, from 1935 to 1938, when they were replaced with larger and more luxurious Empire flying boats, opening a Sydney to Southampton, England, service.
In World War 2, Qantas flew supply drops and evacuation flights, kept open air transport links and maintained allied aircraft.

The QANTAS Kangaroo

In 1944, a kangaroo design, adapted from the Australian one penny coin, was painted beneath the cockpit of a Qantas Liberator aircraft at Brisbane, after the company christened its Indian Ocean run the Kangaroo Service.
The motif was developed into the famous "flying kangaroo" by Sydney designer Gert Sellheim, in 1947. By 1968 the flying kangaroo was seen in a circle.
The more recent kangaroo symbol - without wings - designed by Tony Lunn, of Lunn Design Group, dates from 1984. A 75th Anniversary logo by Ken Cato appeared in 1995.

QANTAS Post World War 2

1947 was also the year the Australian government bought Empire's shares, and all other remaining Qantas shares. Qantas was by now operating DC-3 services to New Guinea, and flying boat services, and began services to Japan. Two years later, TAA (Trans Australia Airlines) began taking over domestic routes from Qantas.
Qantas Constellations, over the next decade, opened routes to America, and by the late 1950s, the company pioneered round-the-world services, and became the first non-US operator of the Boeing 707 jet airliner. A year into the '70s, Qantas introduced the Boeing 747 "Jumbo" to its fleet.
Still breaking new ground, Qantas set a world record in 1974 by evacuating 673 passengers on one flight, after Cyclone Tracy devastated Darwin, NT on Christmas day. Their last 707s were phased out in 1979, and Qantas became the world's first all-747 airline. Boeing 767s entered Qantas service in 1985. Qantas first attempt at a low cost offshoot was Australia Asia Airlines using both 747sp's and 2 x 767's. Australia Asia was revolutionary but spiraling fuel costs saw the mini airline eventually disbanded.
The company bought Australian Airlines (formerly TAA) in 1992 and also in 1992, entered into a successful partnership with Australia Post. "Australian air Express" first took to the skies on August 1, 1992. Early achievement of world's best practice performance in line haul carriage of mail for Australia Post equipped AaE to begin forging long-term alliances with the best of Australia's private and public sector organisations.
A year later the Australian government sold a 25% share of the airline to British Airways, moving towards privatisation. Qantas and Australian Airlines merged to form Qantas - The Australian Airline. This saw Australian aircraft repainted into the Qantas livery including all 737's and the company's first Airbus the A300.
In 1999 Qantas was servicing 120 Australian destinations, and carrying passengers to 35 other countries, using 102 Boeing aircraft in its main fleet and 38 other aircraft operated by regional subsidiaries. Late in 1999 Qantas also sold a franchise to New Zealand operator Tasman Pacific Airlines and this saw the birth of Qantas New Zealand. Using Dash 8 and Bae146 aircraft, unfortunately this franchise went bankrupt in late 1999 and the QNZ operations were wound down. In the true Anzac spirit, Qantas released 737's to assist the now stranded New Zealand public and continue to do so to this day with Jetconnect. Also of interest in this period was the eventual purchase of Impulse Airlines by Qantas in late 2000. The regional operations of Impulse saw QantasLink take over Impulse aircraft - 717 200 and Beech 1900d aircraft. Other Qantas subsidiaries, Eastern Australia, Southern Australia, Sunstate and Airlink were amalgamated into the new QantasLink branding also in 2000. QantasLink operated Shorts 360, Dash 8, Bae146, 717 and B1900 aircraft although the b1900 still appeared in the old Impulse livery. Eventually QantasLink was trimmed to operate just the 717, Dash8 and Bae146 aircrafts but the 717 was transferred to their new low cost subsidiary Jetstar in early 2004.
Qantas also started a low cost international airline in late 2002 with the newly reborn "Australian Airlines". Whilst headquartered in Sydney, Australian Airlines located its first operational base in Cairns and commenced operations with four Boeing 767-300 aircraft but eventually will build to a fleet of 12 767 300's. The new airline, which has separate management, and operates independently of Qantas, will offer connecting flights between Cairns and the Gold Coast and will eventually fly to every Australian mainland capital. The new airline would not fly on any routes against Qantas but concentrate on non-stop return routes from Cairns to Osaka, Nagoya, Singapore, Taipei, Hong Kong and Fukuoka. Not to be outdone by foreign companies, Qantas started a new low cost Domestic carrier in 2004 utilising the old Impulse AOC and "Jetstar" was born.
Jetstar will operate to all mainland capitals and tourist destinations and first flew in their own right in May 2004. Flying initially with the B717 aircraft, they will eventually be replaced with a fleet of 23 Airbus A320 aircraft. Again, this new entrant into the fold will have separate management and operate independently of Qantas. Jetstar Asia also came into being in 2004 and fly from their Singapore hub to various locations in the south east Asia region. Linking with Jetstar Domestic and Australian Airlines and Qantas, makes this entry into the LCC market a formidable force in the South East Asian region. Late in 2005 though, Qantas announced the purchase of the Boeing 787 aircraft which will replace the 767 aircraft left in the QAL fleet and also supplement the Jetstar Domestic fleet. In late 2006 Jetstar received new international routes and this new international LCC arm along with the Jetstar Asia and Australian domestic operations will operate under the brand name and banner of Jetstar completely and start a brand new LCC airline domestically and internationally for QAL - an exciting new initiative further broadening the depth and operations of this new airline furthering its scope but decreasing its cost margins also. Initially this new Jetstar "international" initiative will use some of the QAL A330-200 fleet until the new B787 is bought online. As part of this restructure QAL in July 2006 decided to disband the newly formed Australian Airlines brand and dissolve its operations. Also the 717-200 JetStar fleet was returned into the QAL livery during this period. So a new international airline is born and a new exciting concept in QAL operations begins.

July 25 2007 had the Qantas Kangaroo go through another evolution. The new Kangaroo was deemed a better fit for the new A380 aircraft that came into operational service in October 2008. Along with the new "Roo" comes an Italicised version of the Qantas livery on the fuselage to modernise the look of the Qantas fleet.

With Australian Airlines disbanded, new aircraft purchased, Jetstar Asia and JetStar amalgamated and new International routes for the newly born "Jetstar" come into being, a new force in Asia is born and along with current QAL aircrafts and worldwide routes will further the brands, functions, routes and destinations and profitability and most of all - lower travel costs for us - the traveling public!! - for a great Australian company - QANTAS! That's why Qantas Virtual Airways exists - to further and promote our Australian airline to you - WORLDWIDE- the flight simulation community.


The information and pictures on Qantas History are reproduced from The Australian Aviation Archive with permission. Thank you to John Burford, the author of this wonderful site which contains a wealth of information on all Australian Aviation history. John's site is well worth a visit!

The Qantas Hangar at Longreach Queensland