Qantas Celebrate 85 Years

Sydney, 14 November 2005

Qantas is planning a range of activities this week to celebrate its 85th birthday.

The Chief Executive Officer of Qantas, Mr Geoff Dixon, said that as a company that respected its history, Qantas was looking forward to reaching such a significant milestone on Wednesday, 16 November.

"For an airline to survive 85 years, let alone prosper and grow, is a remarkable feat, particularly when you consider the more recent historical events of global aviation.

"We are proud of what has been accomplished by generations of Qantas people over the past 85 years, taking us from a small outback flying operation to one of the world's most successful airlines," Mr Dixon said.

He said the week's celebrations included:

* a visit to Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane by the world's largest passenger jet, the Airbus A380 on its first trip outside Europe, which was attracting interest from people from all over Australia;
* the Qantas birthday dinner in Brisbane on Tuesday, 15 November, hosted by Chairman Margaret Jackson for 600 guests from all over the world, including corporate customers, political figures, frequent flyers, media and staff, with special guest and Qantas Ambassador, John Travolta;
* a million dollar seat sale, with low fares on sale between 12 and 28 November for international and domestic flights;
* the publication of a special commemorative book, I Still Call Australia Home - the Qantas Story 1920-2005, on sale from mid-November;
* a special 85th Birthday promotion offering Qantas passengers the chance to win a trip to both Longreach - the birthplace of Qantas - and Toulouse, the home of the A380;
* a range of special edition merchandise, including clothing and historical postcards for sale at;
* an historical mini-site on, including an interactive time line with highlights of the Qantas story;
* a series of short historical vignettes as part of the airline's inflight entertainment programming during November; and
* special inflight service on the 16th, including birthday cake or chocolates for every passenger.

Mr Dixon said Qantas had also arranged commemorative posters in major metropolitan newspapers on 16 November, which told the story of Qantas.

He said Qantas would also be supporting the Qantas Socceroos World Cup Qualifier match on the date of its birthday, 16 November, arranging an appearance by John Travolta, a Boeing 747-400 flyover and a performance by the Australian Girls' Choir.

Qantas was conceived by Lieutenants Wilmot Hudson Fysh DFC and Paul McGinness DFC who were commissioned to find suitable landing grounds for a Great Britain-Australia air race. After completing the survey they were convinced that air travel was the ideal alternative for crossing sparsely populated country where roads were almost non-existent.

They envisaged their aircraft linking Brisbane and Darwin - the capitals of Queensland and the Northern Territory - with railheads at Charleville, Blackall, Longreach, Winton and Cloncurry. Hudson Fysh, McGinness, and grazier Fergus McMaster registered Qantas in Brisbane on 16 November 1920. The name Qantas comes from the initial letters of the words in the original registered title - Queensland and Northern Territory Aerial Services Limited. The first Board meeting was held in Winton on 10 February 1921.

The company began its operations with joy rides and air taxi flights. Regular scheduled airmail and passenger services began on 2 November 1922, from Charleville to Cloncurry in rural Queensland. The journey of 923 kilometres took two days with an overnight stop at Longreach. Passenger ticket No. 1 was issued to 84 year old Alexander Kennedy, a pioneer of western Queensland.

Today, Qantas is the world's 11th largest airline in terms of Revenue Passenger Kilometres (RPKs). The Qantas fleet consists of 201 aircraft. The Qantas Group carried more than 32 million passengers in 2004/05 and serves 145 destinations in nearly 40 countries - 62 in Australia and 83 in other countries (including codeshare services). The Group employs around 38,000 people worldwide.

Key milestones in Qantas' History
* 1920: Birth of Q.A.N.T.A.S on 16 November, heralding the start of air travel in Australia.
* 1922: Fist scheduled mail and passenger flights.
* 1924: S.M Bruce became the first Australian Prime Minister to use an aircraft for official travel.
* 1928: Qantas signed a contract to operate medical flights for the Royal Flying Doctor Service.
* 1934: First airmail service - international and domestic.
* 1938: First cabin crew (male).
* 1938: Head Office moved to Sydney, which had become the main operational base.
* 1939-1945: Qantas maintained vital air links during World War II.
* 1944: Kangaroo symbol adopted.
* 1947:The Longest Hop - first Qantas Kangaroo route service from Sydney to London;
* 1948: The first female cabin crew.
* 1947: Government acquired all shares in Qantas.
* 1953: Introduction of Economy Class.
* 1954: Introduction of services to the USA.
* 1958: Began round-the-world services with Super Constellations.
* 1959: The jet age began with the delivery of the Boeing 707.
* 1971: Qantas Boeing 747 entered service.
* 1974: Cyclone Tracy - Qantas evacuated a record number of people on one flight - 673 people.
* 1979: Qantas became the first airline in the world to offer business class.
* 1987: Frequent Flyer program launched - now has more than four million members.
* 1991: Government announced decision to sell 100% of Australian Airlines and 49% of Qantas.
* 1992: Qantas completed its $400 million purchase of Australian Airlines.
* 1995: Qantas shares listed on the Australian Stock Exchange.
* 1998: Qantas joined a new global aviation alliance - oneworld™.
* 2001: Qantas' four regional subsidiaries commenced operations under the QantasLink brand.
* 2002: Australian Airlines commenced operations.
* 2004: Jetstar commenced operations.

Issued by Qantas Corporate Communication (Q3354)