November 16, 2010

Happy Birthday to the Flying Kangaroo

After 90 years of operation, it's time to wish Qantas a very happy birthday!

Of course, they've had their fair share of bad press of late, but putting that aside, one has to marvel at the achievements of this airline over the years.

Here's just a few of their milestones.

In 1920 Qantas - which stands for Queensland and Northern Territory Aerial Services Limited (Q.A.N.T.A.S.)-registered in Brisbane on 16 November.

1934 - Qantas Empire Airways (Q.E.A.) was registered in Brisbane - a joint venture between Q.A.N.T.A.S. and Imperial Airways of England - and awarded Australian Government tender to operate the country's first overseas air service between Brisbane, Darwin and Singapore which began on 26 February 1935.

1943 to 1945 - Qantas pilots flew the world's longest route - an average of 28 hours - from Perth to Colombo (Sri Lanka) using twin-engine Catalina Flying Boats, undertaken mostly in radio silence to avoid Japanese attack - 271 safe crossings, 648 passengers, a total of almost one million miles.

1948 - First female flight hostesses join their male colleagues in May on the Lockheed Constellation L749 services - the first to operate with all-Australian crew from Sydney through to London.

1958 - Qantas created aviation history becoming the first airline to offer round-the-world services between Australia and the UK via the southern and northern hemispheres.

1959 - In July , Qantas became the first airline outside the United States to fly B707 jets carrying passengers from Australia to the UK across the Pacific and the Atlantic Oceans and later also via Asia.

1975 - Qantas engineer Jack Grant presented with global aviation's premier safety award for his contribution to the development of the inflatable aircraft slide/raft equipment.

1974 - World record for largest passenger load, evacuating 674 people with 23 crew on a Boeing B747 after Cyclone Tracy devastated Darwin.

1979 - Qantas became the first airline in the world to offer Business Class in a separate cabin with individual service on international flights.

1989 - World's longest non-stop flight undertaken by a commercial jet aircraft from London to Sydney, the Boeing 747-400 aircraft City of Canberra.

Aside from years of pioneering and innovation, Qantas became an Australian icon known worldwide. Ask any Aussie overseas and they won't deny feeling a pang of homesickness seeing the familiar 'Flying Kangaroo'. Qantas also became known to millions through the iconic "I Still Call Australia Home" campaign. The video is freely available on YouTube. When visiting family a year or so ago, I was delighted to see a refreshed version of this ad involving the Aboriginal children of the Australia Children's Choir- it can't help but bring a tear to the eye of any proud Aussie.

So, from a self-confessed AvGeek who loved Qantas as a little kid, to a proud Aussie today, a very happy birthday Qantas.! Here's to 90 years more!!


  1. I'm an Aussie overseas, and when I see the flying Kangaroo, all I see is years of cost-gouging on Aussie travelers, rorting, grumpy staff and a pungent sense of self entitlement of slimy frequent qantas flyers. I get homesick for the Asian airlines, who have ground the big, old-money, flying jingo down and made travel a bit fairer for Australia, the most isolated major economy. Flying Kangaroo? Flying national Anchor until deregulation.

  2. Fair enough, but compare apples with apples- Qantas has not had government bailouts like most of the big foreign airlines for at least 15 years...

    In this day and age I think every industry has its grumpy staff, not only the airlines. It's just that no-one shares the good stories and the internet serves to share bad stories much faster and to more people than it used to be.

    Ok, so you don't like the Qantas of today. But at least you must be able to see how they helped shape the nation and led the way for aviation in Australia, to allow all those other airlines to follow on...

    Lastly, Dingo, is that you?? :P

  3. I know Dingo well. He is an excellent chap, and actually has no idea how he wound up following your twitter and fb. But since he lives in airports and planes for work, he takes a keen (non-nerdish) interest in the industry. And feels like a bit of a troll for having a view on Qantas, and apologises for it, but hopes you understand it's all in good spirit. He sends his kindest regards and good respect for your excellent blogs and tweets and stuff like that.

    Yes, I can see their importance for Australian business, aviation and early emergence of Australian travel. I don't buy the argument of Government bailouts - the protectionist attitudes keeping Qantas at the forefront remain today, even under the guise of deregulation. Until the mid nineties there was so little meaningful competition, and in my view that has hamstrung Australia's regional relationships. And I just can't suffer Neil Perry. He's an epic douche. I never said my arguments were especially solid.

    But I will say one thing. By jeez Travolta's plane is good lookin.

  4. Agreed. If he wasn't slightly crazy I'd marry him just to ask for theat plane in the divorce settlement!!! :P

    And agreed on Neil Perry. Oh boy have I heard the stories!!!!!!

    What can I say, troll or not, a little debate is good for the soul of a blogger ;)

  5. Happy Birthday Flying Kangaroo! Fly safe. And may all your birthday wishes come true.


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