Jet age


The jet age began for Qantas in 1959 with the delivery of the Boeing 707 airliner, the first to a non-United States customer along with Lockheed Electra turboprops. Flying times halved with much improved passenger comfort flying above the weather. The 1960s saw worldwide expansion of new destinations and air routes with Qantas ‘V-Jets’ opening new air pathways including the exotic ‘Fiesta Route’ to London via Tahiti, Mexico and the Caribbean. During the 1960s, more migrants arrived in Australia by air than sea.

Air travel became more affordable and with the introduction of the Boeing 747 Jumbo in 1971, more Australians could see the world. Between 1979 and 1985, Qantas operated an all-747 fleet. The delivery of the first Qantas Boeing 747-438 aircraft in 1989 was a record-breaking non-stop flight from London to Sydney.

In 1992, the Keating federal government announced the privatisation of Qantas with the first step being the merger of Australian Airlines and Qantas, allowing Qantas to resume Australian domestic air services. In July 1995, Qantas was fully privatised and listed on the Australian Stock Exchange. 


TAA took delivery of its turbo-prop Fokker Friendship and Lockheed Electra aircraft. Qantas also receives Electra aircraft.

Qantas is the first non-US airline to take delivery of the Boeing 707 jetliner.

Qantas jet services were introduced to the trans-Pacific route, halving travel times and becoming the first jet passenger service across the Pacific.


TAA became the first Australian airline to carry one million passengers in one year.

A new tripartite agreement between Qantas, BOAC and Air India came into operation to share services and revenue on the Kangaroo Route via India.

TAA took over Qantas routes to New Guinea and subsequently all Qantas internal New Guinea air services.


The first Qantas services to New Zealand begin with Electra aircraft.

Qantas introduces Boeing 707-138 jet services to Tokyo and Hong Kong.


The last Qantas Super Constellation aircraft retires. The Qantas Super Constellation fleet flew 64 million miles around the globe.


Qantas reserves delivery positions for ten supersonic airliners consisting of four Anglo-French Concorde and six US Boeing (2707) aircraft.

TAA introduces its first jet aircraft, the Boeing 727.

Qantas begins services on the Fiesta Route to London via Fiji, Tahiti, Acapulco, Mexico City, The Bahamas and Bermuda.


Qantas takes delivery of its first Boeing 707-338C aircraft.

A Qantas Boeing 707-338C makes the first non-stop flight from the USA to Australia by a commercial aircraft.


Sir Hudson Fysh retires as Chairman of Qantas after 46 years with Qantas.

Qantas begins troop charter flights to Vietnam.


Qantas Empire Airways changes its name to Qantas Airways Ltd.

Qantas places the largest single order in its history for four Boeing 747-238B jet airliners at a cost of $123 million.


Qantas begins using QANTAM I, its first computerised flight reservation system.


Qantas operates a special passenger service to witness the re-entry of Apollo 11 after the first manned mission to the moon.

Qantas introduces weekly stops at Bali.


Qantas celebrates its 50th Anniversary.

A Qantas HS125 jet trainer won an England to Australia air race.


The first Qantas Boeing 747-238B enters service along with revolutionary low airfares.


Australian Prime Minister Gough Whitlam travels to China on a Qantas Boeing 707 to establish diplomatic relations.


Qantas co-founder Sir Hudson Fysh dies.

A Qantas Boeing 747 evacuated a record passenger load of 674 passengers plus 23 crew members from Darwin following Cyclone Tracy.


TAA becomes the first Australian domestic airline to carry more than four million people in a year.


Qantas introduces Business Class air travel becoming the first airline in the world to do so.

The last Qantas Boeing 707 is retired. Qantas becomes the world’s only all-Boeing 747 airline.


TAA begins a Hobart-Christchurch service on behalf of Qantas.


TAA took delivery of its first Airbus A300-B4, introducing wide-bodied aircraft to Australian domestic routes.

Qantas introduces the Boeing 747SP.


Qantas and CAAC introduce a regular air service between China and Australia.

A new Qantas livery and corporate identity is introduced, featuring red and white.


Qantas celebrates 50 years of international air services.

TAA purchases Air Queensland.

The first Qantas Boeing 767 enters service.


TAA was renamed Australian Airlines and takes delivery of its first Boeing 737-376.

Australian Airlines subsidiary, Australian Regional Airlines begins operations in Queensland with de Havilland Twin Otter aircraft.


Qantas launches a new staff uniform designed by Yves St Laurent.

Qantas launches its first Frequent Flyer program.


A Qantas Boeing 747-438 establishes a world record non-stop flight for a commercial aircraft by flying from London to Sydney in just over 20 hours.


Australian Airlines acquires Sunstate Airlines in Queensland and Mildura. The Mildura operation is later renamed Southern Australia Airlines.


The federal government announced its decision to sell 100% of Australian Airlines and 49% of Qantas.

Australian Airlines acquires Eastern Airlines and Australian Airlink begins services from Brisbane with BAe 146 jets.


Prime Minister Paul Keating announces the reforms that would lead to the merging of Australian Airlines and Qantas.

Federal Cabinet announces Qantas’ $400 million bid for Australian Airlines and that 100% of the enlarged Qantas Group would be privatised.

Qantas completes the purchase of Australian Airlines.

The federal government announces British Airways’ is successful with a $655 million bid for 25% of Qantas.


The Qantas Board announces that Qantas and Australian Airlines are to be merged under the name ‘Qantas The Australian Airline’. James Strong is appointed to lead the new airline.

Sunstate Airlines and Australian Regional Airlines merged their operations in Queensland, retaining the name Sunstate.


Qantas launches the ‘I Still Call Australia Home’ advertising campaign.

A new staff uniform designed by George Gross and Harry Watt is introduced.


The Qantas public share offer was launched. Qantas shares were first listed on the Australian Stock Exchange on 31 July.