Qantas Through the Years

Year  

Key Events

1920   Queensland and Northern Territory Aerial Services Ltd is formed on 16 November with headquarters in Winton, Queensland.
1921   Headquarters move to Longreach, Queensland.

1922   The first scheduled Qantas mail and passenger flight operates from Charleville to Cloncurry, Queensland.

1924   S M Bruce flies Qantas, becoming the first Australian Prime Minister to use an aircraft for official travel.

1926   Qantas begins building its own aircraft in Longreach.
1927   Qantas takes on its first apprentice.
1928   The Flying Doctor Service is launched, using Qantas aircraft.
1929   The outback network extends to Brisbane.

1930   Qantas establishes its headquarters in Brisbane.
1931   Qantas carries airmail from Brisbane to Darwin as part of an experimental service to the UK.
1934   The company name changes to Qantas Empire Airways Limited.

1935   A Qantas DH86 operates the airline's first overseas flight, from Darwin to Singapore, carrying airmail bound to the UK in cooperation with Imperial Airways (later BOAC).
1938   Qantas introduces Short C Class flying boats on the UK route, flying as far as Singapore where Imperial Airways crews take over. The head office moves to Sydney, the new operational base.

1939-1945   The airline establishes an engine overhaul workshop at Mascot aerodrome (now Sydney Airport). Qantas supports the war effort, evacuating personnel who risk being captured by advancing Japanese forces and dropping supplies at tree-top level to troops in New Guinea. The airline pioneers history-making flights of 30 hours or more in Catalina aircraft between Perth and Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) to maintain a crucial link with the Allied Forces. In 1944 Qantas adopts the kangaroo symbol.

1946   Qantas resumes Australia-UK flying boat services with BOAC (later British Airways) as a partner, introduces DC3 services to New Guinea and extends its network to India and the Pacific Islands.
1946 1946 The Australian Government starts up a new airline, Trans-Australia Airlines (TAA), to serve the domestic market. Captain Lester Brain is recruited from Qantas as its first general manager.
1947   The Australian Government buys all shares in Qantas; the airline introduces Constellation aircraft on the London route and operates its first flight to Japan.

1949   TAA takes over Qantas' Queensland and Northern Territory networks and the Flying Doctor Service operations.

1953   Qantas introduces tourist (economy) class on the Kangaroo Route to the UK.
1954   Qantas begins flights to San Francisco and Vancouver with Super Constellations.

1956   Qantas carries the Olympic flame from Athens to Australia for the Olympic Games in Melbourne.
1957   The airline opens its new corporate headquarters, Qantas House in Hunter Street, Sydney.
1958   Qantas pioneers round the world services, using Super Constellations.

1959   Qantas becomes the first non-US airline to introduce Boeing 707s which halve travel times on trans-Pacific services.

1960   TAA takes over Qantas’ Papua New Guinea operations.
1964 TAA enters the jet age with Boeing 727s. Their mechanical reliability, comfort and speed stimulate amazing growth in the Australian airline industry.
1966   Qantas' Co-founder Sir Hudson Fysh retires as Chairman of Qantas.
1967   The name is changed to Qantas Airways Limited.
1967 TAA introduces the DC9 and soon sets a world record for mechanical reliability by completing 495 separate revenue flights without a single delay for mechanical reasons.
1971   Qantas introduces the jumbo jet - the Boeing 747.

1974   Qantas establishes a world record by evacuating 673 passengers on one of its flights from Darwin after the city was devastated by Cyclone Tracy.
1979   Qantas phases out its last 707 to become the world's only all-747 airline and introduces the world's first Business Class.
1985   Qantas introduces Boeing 767s.

1985 James Strong joins TAA and sets about transforming and revitalising TAA at a time when the Government was moving towards a greater degree of deregulation and competition.
1986 Trans-Australia Airlines (TAA) is renamed Australian Airlines.
1988 Australian Airlines becomes an incorporated public company.
1989 Australian Airlines runs into major trouble when its pilots go on strike and later that year resign en masse. Australian Airlines goes on to recruit a new pilot work force working on new contracts. At this time the Government advises that it is considering a merger of Australian Airlines and Qantas.
1989   Qantas establishes a world distance record for commercial jets when it flies its first Boeing 747-400 non stop 18,001km from London to Sydney in 20 hours nine minutes and five seconds.

1990 John Schaap, another former Qantas executive, is appointed Australian Airlines General Manager just ten months before the Government is to deregulate the Australian domestic aviation industry.
1992 On June 2, Prime Minister Paul Keating announces at a press conference what he describes as ‘a little bit of history’. The government had approved the sale of Australian Airlines to Qantas. Qantas buys Australian Airlines for A$400 million.
1993   The Australian Government sells a 25 per cent share of the airline to British Airways as the first step towards privatisation. Qantas and Australian Airlines are merged under the banner Qantas - 'The Australian Airline' with James Strong, the former chief executive of Australian Airlines at the helm as Qantas Airways Limited’s Chief Executive Officer.
1994   Qantas introduces a new cabin design as part of a comprehensive update of its service which also features more comfortable seats, new menus and uniforms and bigger airport lounges.
1995   In June there is a public float of the remaining 75 per cent of Qantas. The float closes in late July and Qantas shares are traded on the Australian Stock Exchange from 31 July. Qantas is now one of the world's great airlines. The airline group, including regional subsidiaries, operates a fleet of more than 130 aircraft flying more than 14 million passengers annually.
1997   50th Anniversary of full Qantas services on the Kangaroo route between Australia and United Kingdom, and the 50th anniversary of services to Japan
2002   Qantas' launches new international subsidiary airline under the name of 'Australian Airlines'.
2004   Qantas launches new domestic low cost carrier 'Jetstar'.
2006   Qantas subsidiary 'Australian Airlines' ceases operation.
2008   Qantas introduces the A380 to its fleet. Qantas has 20 A380s on order, the second-largest A380 order of any airline in the world.

2008 Achieved a 'perfect flight path gate to gate,' with the inaugural A380 service between Los Angeles and Melbourne using Required Navigation Performance and air traffic management to save thousands of kilograms of carbon emissions.
2008 World-record for commercial engine performance with 42,019 hours on-wing (equal to 1,000 return trips to the UK) with a Qantas General Electric CF6-80C2 engine installed on a B747-400 aircraft for nine years.
2010 Next Generation Check-in.
2012 Next generation flying with the arrival of the first of our B787 fleet.
2020 Centenary of Qantas.

Back to top