History of Qantas Airways

  • On the 16th of November, 1920, Qantas is founded by Paul McGuiness, Hudson Fysh, Fergus McMaster and Arthur Baird in Winton, Queensland. Back then, its name was Queensland and Northern Territory Aerial Services Limited.
  • During its first few years, the airline operated air mail services subsidised by the Australian government, connecting railheads in western Queensland, using a fleet whose first aircraft was an Avro 504K purchased for £1425.
  • After building 8 aircraft under license in its Longreach hangar between 1926 and 1928 (7 de Havilland DH.50s and a single DH.9), Qantas made the inaugural flight of the Royal Flying Doctor Service of Australia, departing from Cloncurry with a chartered aircraft.
  • In early 1935, Qantas introduced flights to Singapore, using the de Havilland Express.
  • In June, 1938, two Shorts S.23 Empire flying boats join the fleet, and the first flight attendant of the airline gets employed. These two flying boats will operate until 1944.
  • Around the same period, Qantas moves its headquarters to Sydney.
  • Between 1939 and 1947, the airline struggled to continue its operations, as enemy action and accidents destroyed half of its fleet, after being taken over by the Australian government for war service.
  • In 1947, Lockheed L.049 Constellations were added to the fleet and, five years later, Qantas crossed the Indian Ocean to Johannesburg via Perth, Cocos Islands and Mauritius, calling this the Wallaby Route.
  • In 1956, Qantas ordered the Boeing 707 jet, preparing its entry into the jet age.
  • In 1958, Qantas became a round-the-world-airline, flying from Australia to London via Asia and the Middle East (the Kangaroo Route) and via the Southern Cross route (flights to Vancouver via Auckland, Nadi, Honolulu and San Francisco), using Super Constellations.
  • One year later, the Lockheed Electra joined the fleet, as well as the Boeing 707, and in early September, 1959, Qantas becomes the third airline to fly jets across the Atlantic, after BOAC and Pan Am.
  • In 1965, Qantas introduces its first TV ads and, one year later, the Fiesta route opens – Sydney to London via Tahiti, Mexico City, and Bermuda.
  • In 1971, the Boeing 747-238Bs joined the fleet, being introduced on the Kangaroo Route.
  • In 1974, after Darwin was devastated by Cyclone Tracy, Qantas established a world record for most people embarked on a single aircraft, evacuating 673 people on a single Boeing 747 flight.
  • In 1979, the Boeing 707s were withdrawn from service, leaving Qantas the only airline in the world using a Boeing 747-exclusive fleet. In the same year, Qantas was the first airline in the world to introduce Business Class.
  • In 1985, the Boeing 767-200 joined the fleet, operating on the New Zealand, Asia and Pacific routes.
  • In 1989, a new world record was set – Qantas’ first Boeing 747-438 flies non-stop from London to Sydney – 18,001 kilometres in 20 hours, 9 minutes.
  • In 1991, the Australian government announced its intention to sell 49% of Qantas, and full privatization occurs in 1995, when the shares of the airline are being traded for the first time on the Australian Stock Exchange.
  • In 1998, Qantas co-founded the Oneworld alliance with American Airlines, Canadian Airlines, British Airways, and Cathay Pacific.
  • In 2003, Qantas introduced its award winning Business Skybed.
  • Two years later, Qantas celebrated 85 years.
  • In 2007, the Qantas First Lounges open at Sydney and Melbourne, and the new Premium Economy Class is announced to arrive in early 2008.
  • In late October, 2008, the Airbus A380 joins the Qantas fleet with a first flight from Melbourne to Los Angeles.
  • In 2009, Qantas kept expanding its range of services by introducing International Online Check-In and Advance Seat Selection.
  • In 2010, Qantas introduced the Next Generation Check-in and Q Bag Tag (a permanent tag that contains world first RFID technology allowing information of the passenger and flight details to be electronically imprinted) reducing domestic check-in times for customers.
  • In 2011, Qantas expanded Next Generation Check-in technology across its regional network and launched the first stage of its international Faster, Smarter Check-in with new Q Card Readers for trans-Tasman frequent flyers.
  • In 2012, a Commercial Agreement was signed to form the world’s leading airline partnership between Qantas and Emirates.
  • In 2013, Dubai became the Qantas gateway to Europe, the Middle East and North Africa.
  • In 2014, Qantas was named the safest airline in the world by the aviation industry website AirlineRatings.com. The website lists Qantas, with a seven-star rating for safety and in-flight product, among the 10 airlines that it considers the safest.

  • In 2015, Qantas partnered with HBO to bring its customers hundreds of hours of the most popular TV shows programs. Each month, the HBO channel updates with 20 hours of the latest shows and movies.

  • By late 2016, Qantas will announce and start selling tickets on its first Boeing B787 flights. Qantas is scheduled to receive its first Boeing B787-9 Dreamliner in October 2017, with international flights scheduled to start in mid-late November. Three more B787-9 Dreamliners from the initial order of eight jets will follow to mid-2018, with four more joining the fleet by mid-2019.

  • Most of Qantas’ fatal incidents occurred before and during World War II. In the nine incidents (including an aircraft shot down) that took place between 1927 and 1945, 63 people died. After the war, two aircraft were lost, causing 17 victims, with the last accident occurring in 1951. No Qantas jets were involved in deadly incidents so far.