qantas plane flying
Our history

Read about the Qantas story, from our early days in Winton and Longreach in outback Queensland to the Global airline we've become today. A few determined individuals overcame formidable obstacles to establish the Queensland and Northern Territory Aerial Services Ltd (QANTAS).

1918-1938

In November 1920, World War One veterans Paul McGinness and Hudson Fysh envisaged an air service connecting Australia to the world. They had recently completed the first overland motor survey of northern Australia by Model T Ford. Queensland and Northern Territory Aerial Services Ltd was registered as a business on 16 November 1920. Founding chairman Fergus McMaster wrote that Qantas was “inspired by the spirit of ANZAC”. The first Qantas air routes provided vital connections to the people of western Queensland who responded with enthusiasm by purchasing shares and travelling by air.

The founder’s vision was always on the horizon, they were pioneering a new form of travel, not just an airline. The ‘NT’ in Qantas represented their plan to fly overseas via Darwin as the main aerial port of entry at the time. From joy-riding and charter work based at Longreach in western Queensland, a route network quickly developed. The vision for overseas expansion was achieved in 1935 with services between Brisbane and Singapore taking three and a half days using DH-86 aircraft. From 1938, Empire flying boats linked Sydney and Singapore introducing full cabin service and modern comfort.  

1918

Gallipoli veterans Paul McGinness and Hudson Fysh meet while serving with No. 1 Squadron, Australian Flying Corps in Palestine, during the First World War.

1919

McGinness and Fysh complete an overland airfield survey between Longreach and Darwin along the route to be used by aviators competing for a ₤10,000 prize for the first flight from Britain to Australia. Prize is won by Ross & Keith Smith after arriving at Darwin in December.

1920

Queensland and Northern Territory Aerial Services Ltd (Q.A.N.T.A.S) formed at Winton, Queensland with two aircraft on 16 November. Joy-flights and charter work are the mainstays of the business. Grazier Fergus McMaster provides vital guidance and becomes the first Chairman.

1921

Operations moved to Longreach and Qantas built a hangar that still exists. The first Qantas aircraft is an Avro 504K built in Sydney.

1922

The first scheduled mail and passenger flights from Charleville to Cloncurry in November. First passenger was 84-year-old Alexander Kennedy.

1924

S.M. Bruce became the first Australian Prime Minister to use an aircraft for official travel. He flew in a Qantas aircraft from Winton to Longreach after a storm cut roads.

1925

The first Cloncurry-Mt Isa-Camooweal service carried fresh butter and ice to inland residents.

1926

Arthur Baird, Qantas chief engineer, starts a project to build Qantas DH50 aircraft under licence at Longreach. Qantas is one of the few airlines to have built and operated its own aircraft.

1927

Arthur Baird starts training apprentices at Longreach. Qantas builds a hangar at Eagle Farm airfield in Brisbane and opens a flying school. Trains Dorothy Reis, the first female pilot in Queensland.

The first regular Qantas Cloncurry-Normanton service begins. It carried fresh fish from Normanton for sale at market prices.

1928

Qantas was contracted to operate the first flying doctor service on behalf of Reverend John Flynn’s Australian Inland Mission. Beginning in May from a base at Cloncurry, the service flew 225 patients in its first year of operation.

1929

A Qantas Charleville-Brisbane service begins, bringing the route network to 2,380 kilometres.

Qantas pilot Lester Brain finds the Kookaburra aircraft missing in the Tanami Desert. Pilots Keith Anderson and Bob Hitchcock had died of thirst after setting off to search for Charles Kingsford Smith and the Southern Cross.

1930

The rapidly growing airline moved its head office to Brisbane. Hangars and maintenance operations were established at Archerfield.

Qantas had flown its first one million miles or 1.6 million kilometres.

1932

Negotiations with Kingsford Smith and Charles Ulm’s Australian National Airways and Norman Brearley’s West Australian Airways sought a joint Australian airmail operation to partner with Imperial Airways. Disagreements led to Qantas approaching Imperial Airways and becoming the sole Australian carrier for the new UK-Australia passenger and airmail service.

1934

Qantas Empire Airways Ltd was formed with joint Qantas and Imperial Airways ownership. QEA was to operate the Singapore-Australia leg of the Empire Air Mail service.

1935

A Qantas four-engine DH86 flew from Brisbane to Singapore, the airline’s first overseas flight. The first overseas passenger to travel from Singapore was Lady Edwina Mountbatten in April.

1936

Qantas services to Singapore are doubled to twice weekly as planning begins for a UK-Australia flying boat service.

1937

A Short Empire flying boat ‘Centaurus’ touched down on the Brisbane river at the end of a route survey flight. An estimated 50,000 people turned out to see the new aircraft when it visited Sydney.

1938

Two Qantas Short Empire flying boats arrived at Rose Bay, Sydney.

The first Sydney-Southampton flight departs from Rose Bay. Qantas crews flew as far as Singapore where Imperial Airways took over the service to the UK.

Qantas moves its head office to Sydney and hires its first flight stewards.

Front Line Airline

1939-1945

Despite having a number of its aircraft transferred to the Royal Australian Air Force, Qantas continued to operate air services to Singapore and within Australia after war is declared in 1939.

Qantas crews ferried 19 Catalina flying boats from the USA to Australia in 1941. The first of these flights was just the second east to west aerial crossing of the Pacific Ocean.

Singapore services cease in February 1942 as Japanese forces occupy most of South East Asia. Qantas flying boats evacuated servicemen and civilians from the Dutch East Indies to Australia. Two Qantas Empire flying boats were shot down by Japanese aircraft in early 1942.

The Qantas hangar and flying boat servicing facilities were destroyed in the first Japanese air raid on Darwin on 19 February 1942. A Qantas Empire flying boat narrowly escapes destruction.

Qantas DH86 aircraft evacuate 78 people from Mt Hagen in New Guinea in May 1942.

Qantas completes urgent supply flights from Port Moresby to the front-line at Buna in late 1942.

From June 1943, Qantas operated the only regular air service to Australia across the Indian Ocean between Ceylon and Perth. Catalina flying boats crossed 5,600 kilometres non-stop with flying times of between 28 and 33 hours. Passengers were awarded a certificate of membership to ‘The Rare and Secret Order of the Double Sunrise’. Liberator aircraft took over in 1945 and passengers received ‘The Elevated Order of the Longest Hop.’ Qantas Liberators were the first to carry the flying kangaroo symbol.

Post War Aviation

1945-1958

People fly for many reasons. Qantas connects Australians with the rest of the world and with each other. Aviation matters more in Australia than it does in most other countries due to vast travel distances at home and overseas. Some of the busiest domestic air routes in the world are Australian. During WW2 Qantas evacuated non-combatants from the line of fire and kept open Australia’s only civilian air link across the Indian Ocean with Catalina and Liberator aircraft. In 1944, Qantas Liberators were the first to carry the flying kangaroo symbol. Constellation aircraft first flew all the way to London from Sydney in 1947 and Qantas routes circled the earth via both hemispheres from 1958. 

1945

In partnership with the British Overseas Airways Corporation, Qantas re-established services to London with Avro Lancastrian aircraft operating to Karachi where BOAC took over the service.

Qantas flew the first scheduled services to New Guinea and the Pacific Islands with flying boats, DC3 and DH84 aircraft. Brisbane-Darwin services were also resumed.

The Commonwealth established the Australian National Airlines Commission, the organisation behind Trans-Australia Airlines (TAA).

1946

The first TAA flight between Melbourne and Sydney took off from Laverton RAAF Base in September. Four TAA DC4 aircraft arrived in October and services to all Australian capitals were in place by December.

1947

The Australian government acquired all the shares in Qantas and the airline passed into public ownership.

The first Qantas Lockheed Constellation arrives in Australia and through-services from Sydney to London on the Kangaroo Route began in December.

The first Qantas flight hostesses joined the airline.

Qantas flew its first regular air service to Japan on behalf of the RAAF carrying six passengers in a Lancastrian aircraft.

1948

TAA revolutionised domestic air travel with the delivery of the first pressurised Convair 240 aircraft.

1949

Qantas Queensland and Northern Territory networks and flying doctor services were transferred to TAA. Qantas would concentrate on overseas services including internal New Guinea routes.

Qantas begins services to Hong Kong.

TAA carries its one millionth passenger. The TAA network of 21,843 km was the world’s longest all-domestic air service.

1950

The founding Chairman of Qantas Sir Fergus McMaster dies.

A Qantas Sydney-Tokyo civilian service begins. Military charter flights to Japan continue during the Korean War.

1952

Qantas co-founder Paul McGinness dies in Perth.

Qantas begins services to South Africa on the Wallaby Route with Constellation aircraft.

Inaugural Qantas services flew to Beirut and Frankfurt.

1954

Qantas introduces Tourist Class travel on the Kangaroo Route.

First Qantas Super Constellation arrives in Sydney and services to USA begin after Qantas takes over British Commonwealth Pacific Airlines.

TAA takes delivery of the Vickers Viscount aircraft, the first turbo-prop aircraft to operate in Australia.

1955

TAA introduces Tourist Class travel on some routes.

Qantas’ last Short Sandringham flying boat service leaves Rose Bay in Sydney.

1956

TAA operates Australia’s first commercial helicopter service from Melbourne.

Qantas carries the Melbourne Olympic flame from Athens to Darwin in a specially modified container onboard a Super Constellation.

1957

The modern glass-fronted Qantas House is opened in Sydney as the new Qantas head office.

The inaugural Qantas service to Athens leaves Sydney.

1958

The first two scheduled round-the-world Qantas Super Constellation services leave from Melbourne flying east and west., arriving back in Sydney.

Post War Aviation

1945-1958

People fly for many reasons. Qantas connects Australians with the rest of the world and with each other. Aviation matters more in Australia than it does in most other countries due to vast travel distances at home and overseas. Some of the busiest domestic air routes in the world are Australian. During WW2 Qantas evacuated non-combatants from the line of fire and kept open Australia’s only civilian air link across the Indian Ocean with Catalina and Liberator aircraft. In 1944, Qantas Liberators were the first to carry the flying kangaroo symbol. Constellation aircraft first flew all the way to London from Sydney in 1947 and Qantas routes circled the earth via both hemispheres from 1958. 

1945

In partnership with the British Overseas Airways Corporation, Qantas re-established services to London with Avro Lancastrian aircraft operating to Karachi where BOAC took over the service.

Qantas flew the first scheduled services to New Guinea and the Pacific Islands with flying boats, DC3 and DH84 aircraft. Brisbane-Darwin services were also resumed.

The Commonwealth established the Australian National Airlines Commission, the organisation behind Trans-Australia Airlines (TAA).

1946

The first TAA flight between Melbourne and Sydney took off from Laverton RAAF Base in September. Four TAA DC4 aircraft arrived in October and services to all Australian capitals were in place by December.

1947

The Australian government acquired all the shares in Qantas and the airline passed into public ownership.

The first Qantas Lockheed Constellation arrives in Australia and through-services from Sydney to London on the Kangaroo Route began in December.

The first Qantas flight hostesses joined the airline.

Qantas flew its first regular air service to Japan on behalf of the RAAF carrying six passengers in a Lancastrian aircraft.

1948

TAA revolutionised domestic air travel with the delivery of the first pressurised Convair 240 aircraft.

1949

Qantas Queensland and Northern Territory networks and flying doctor services were transferred to TAA. Qantas would concentrate on overseas services including internal New Guinea routes.

Qantas begins services to Hong Kong.

TAA carries its one millionth passenger. The TAA network of 21,843 km was the world’s longest all-domestic air service.

1950

The founding Chairman of Qantas Sir Fergus McMaster dies.

A Qantas Sydney-Tokyo civilian service begins. Military charter flights to Japan continue during the Korean War.

1952

Qantas co-founder Paul McGinness dies in Perth.

Qantas begins services to South Africa on the Wallaby Route with Constellation aircraft.

Inaugural Qantas services flew to Beirut and Frankfurt.

1954

Qantas introduces Tourist Class travel on the Kangaroo Route.

First Qantas Super Constellation arrives in Sydney and services to USA begin after Qantas takes over British Commonwealth Pacific Airlines.

TAA takes delivery of the Vickers Viscount aircraft, the first turbo-prop aircraft to operate in Australia.

1955

TAA introduces Tourist Class travel on some routes.

Qantas’ last Short Sandringham flying boat service leaves Rose Bay in Sydney.

1956

TAA operates Australia’s first commercial helicopter service from Melbourne.

Qantas carries the Melbourne Olympic flame from Athens to Darwin in a specially modified container onboard a Super Constellation.

1957

The modern glass-fronted Qantas House is opened in Sydney as the new Qantas head office.

The inaugural Qantas service to Athens leaves Sydney.

1958

The first two scheduled round-the-world Qantas Super Constellation services leave from Melbourne flying east and west., arriving back in Sydney.

Jet Age

1959-1991

From 1959, the jet age halved flying times with Boeing 707s and later the 747, introducing a dynamic, modern design aesthetic. Flight hostesses soon became one of the most visible, glamorous marketing symbols for airlines and Qantas was no exception. 

Qantas has an international reputation for engineering excellence and safety. It has many firsts to its credit including the world’s first Business Class cabin in 1979 and the invention of the slide raft now standard on all large commercial aircraft. New long-haul routes such as Perth-London using new fuel efficient aircraft such as the Boeing 787-9 are delivering long-haul service with innovation and style. Project Sunrise promises to connect Australia directly with the world in the near future, continuing the founding vision one hundred years on.  

1959

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.

1960

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.

1961

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

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

1963

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

1964

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.

1965

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.

1966

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

Qantas begins troop charter flights to Vietnam.

1967

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.

1968

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

1969

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.

1970

Qantas celebrates its 50th Anniversary.

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

1971

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

1973

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

1974

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.

1975

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

1979

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.

1980

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

1981

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

Qantas introduces the Boeing 747SP

1984

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.

1985

Qantas celebrates 50 years of international air services.

TAA purchases Air Queensland.

The first Qantas Boeing 767 enters service.

1986

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.

1987

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

Qantas launches its first Frequent Flyer program.

1989

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

1990

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

1991

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.

Privatisation

1992 - 2019

The Qantas fleet provides a national strategic airlift asset that has been called on during peace, war and national emergencies. Qantas aircraft helped to evacuate the population of Darwin following Cyclone Tracy and to bring casualties from the Bali bombing in 2002 home. In the post-war years, Qantas also flew thousands of new migrants to Australia as part of its national role as the flag-carrier airline.

1992

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.

1993

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.

1994

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

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

1995

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

1998

Qantas becomes a foundation member of the new global airline marketing alliance, oneworld.

1999

Qantas becomes the first airline to fly non-stop between Melbourne and Los Angeles.

Services to New York resume after a gap of 26 years.

Qantas Defence Services is established to carry out work for the Australian Defence Force.

2000

First Qantas flight on the Silk Road Route over Tibet. This inaugurates the world’s first Future Air Navigation System (FANS) technology, allowing aircraft to operate in areas without traditional radar coverage.

2001

Qantas’ four regional airlines commenced operating under the new brand, QantasLink.

Qantas acquires Impulse Airlines and merges it into QantasLink operations.

Qantas announces the formation of a new international leisure airline, Australian Airlines.

Qantas announces it will order 12 Airbus A380 aircraft for long-haul services.

2002

Qantas took delivery of the first passenger Boeing 747-400ER aircraft.

A new Australian Airlines operated its first flight from Cairns to Nagoya and Osaka as a low-cost tourist service.

Qantas took delivery of its first Airbus A330-200 aircraft.

2003

Qantas introduces a new uniform for frontline staff created by leading Australian designer, Peter Morrissey.

Qantas becomes the first airline to introduce cabin mood lighting to reduce jet-lag.

2004

Jetstar begins operations to 14 destinations in Australia.

Jetstar Asia begins services from Singapore to six Asian destinations. Qantas owns 44.5% of the new company.

2005

Jetstar announces it will begin international flights from Australia with a trans-Tasman service beginning in December.

Qantas opens a new Integrated Operations Centre in Sydney to manage flight operations.

2006

QantasLink takes delivery of its first Bombardier Q400 aircraft.

Jetstar long-haul international services begin with a daily flight from Melbourne to Bangkok.

Qantas becomes the first airline to carry out a landing using the satellite-based Global Landing System with a Boeing 737-800.

2007

Qantas signs an agreement to take progressive 30% ownership of Pacific Airlines in Vietnam.

Qantas reveals new designs by Marc Newson for products, airport lounges and aircraft interiors including the Airbus A380.

2008

Jetstar Pacific, formerly Pacific Airlines, begins operations in Vietnam.

Qantas takes delivery of its first Airbus A380 aircraft.

2010

Qantas introduces Next Generation Check-in kiosks for domestic flights.

Qantas celebrates 90 years of continuous service.

QF32 lands safely after an in-flight emergency near Singapore.

2011

Qantas Defence Services delivers the first of four Airbus A330 Multi-Role Tanker Transport aircraft conversion for the Royal Australian Air Force.

Qantas services are briefly grounded in response to industrial action.

2012

Jetstar Japan begins domestic flights toTokyo, Osaka, Sapporo, Fukuoka and Okinawa.

Qantas announces changes to create four business units within the Qantas Group; Qantas International, Qantas Domestic, Jetstar and Frequent Flyer.

Qantas announces a strategic alliance with Emirates to provide more choice for travellers by flying via Dubai on the Kangaroo Route.

2013

Qantas begins flights to London via Dubai

The Jetstar Group carries it’s 100 millionth customer since launching in 2004.

A new partnership with China Southern is announced.

New Martin Grant uniforms are introduced for 14,000 Qantas staff.

Jetstar introduces the Boeing 787-8 into service.

2015

Qantas posts a record Underlying Profit Before Tax of $1,532 Million. This comes about after a massive restructure of the business to reduce costs and increase efficiency.

Qantas announced acquisition of the Boeing 787-9 for long range routes replacing the Boeing 747-400.

2016

A new Qantas livery is introduced featuring a modern interpretation of the kangaroo logo by designer Marc Newson and the Houston Group.

In-flight Wi-Fi on Qantas Domestic service introduced.

2017

The first Qantas Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner is delivered. First service is Melbourne-Los Angeles.

2018

Perth-London non-stop services begin with the Boeing 787-9. This is the first ever direct air service between Australia and Europe.

Qantas resumes A380 services to London via Singapore.

2019

New Boeing 787 routes to San Francisco and Chicago are announced to begin in 2020.