Australia Crest

The airline was registered by the founders, ex-World War 1 pilots, Wilmot Hudson Fysh and Paul Joseph McGinness in 1920 and commenced operations in 1922.

In 1919 both men had taken a brief from the Defence Dept. to survey an air race from Longreach in Queensland to Katherine in the Northern Territory and lay out supplies along the way for the competitors. They drove over 2,000 km in 7 weeks in a model-T Ford to complete the task and at the end of their arduous journey they were both convinced that there was a necessity for an air service linking remote outback settlements.

Fysh and McGinness

Fysh and McGinness then prepared a landing strip at Darwin and awaited the winners of the air race, Ross and Keith Smith.

Fysh and McGinness then gained the backing of wealthy pastoralists who wanted Queensland's western railheads linked by air.

The first Qantas plane, an Avro 504K, was used by Queensland and Northern Territory Aerial Services Ltd. on November 2nd, 1922 for the first scheduled flight between Charleville and Cloncurry. The plane can be found today in a shed in Duck Street, Longreach, Queensland.

Hudson Fysh was managing director from 1923 onwards.

In 1934 Qantas Empire Airways Ltd was formed and the shares in this company were later taken over by the Australian Government in July 1947, with Fysh staying on as managing director and later chairman.

December 1947 saw the emergence of the new Qantas service between Australia and Britain. Qantas took delivery of 4 Constellation airliners, with pressurised cabins allowing them to fly at 20,000 feet. This ended post-war restrictions on travel between the two countries.

It was on the Constellations that the Flying Kangaroo first appeared late 1947.

Hudson Fysh was knighted in 1953.

On the 15th January, 1958, Qantas began its first round-the-world air service when two Super Constellations took off from Melbourne Airport. One was to fly to London via San Francisco and New York whilst the other travelled via the Middle East. Both planes landed almost at the same time in London the next day.

Qantas- Longreach
Qantas- Longreach

On 31st July, 1959, Qantas Airway's first Boeing 707 broke the commercial air speed record for a trans-Pacific flight. The flight from Sydney to San Francisco took only 14 hours and 57 minutes as against the previous record of 30 hours set by a piston power engined Super Constellation.

When Sir Hudson Fysh retired in 1966 Qantas had a fleet of 160 passenger jets.

In May 1971, two men, one calling himself Mr. Brown, successfully extorted $500,000 from Qantas when they telephoned the Commonwealth Police in Sydney saying there was an altitude-linked bomb on board Qantas flight 755 to Hong Kong and the bomb would explode if the plane, with 128 passengers on board, flew beneath 20,000 feet. Mr. Brown also said there was an identical bomb hidden in a locker at Mascot Airport. This bomb was found, and an in-flight test confirmed the altitude -sensitivity of the bomb and the potential danger to all aboard flight 755. Somehow Mr. Brown and his accomplice escaped after collecting the money but their arrests came quickly after both men went on easily spotted buying sprees with their sudden wealth. There was no bomb on board flight 755.

In 1984 the Flying Kangaroo lost his wings with a new logo being adopted.

In 1990 the government announced that 49% of Australian Airlines and 49% of Qantas would be sold off to the public.

In 1992 Qantas was permitted to buy Australian Airlines.

In 1994 and 1995 two airliners were re-paintd in an aboriginal-inspired contemporary style featuring the mainly red colours of the Australian outback. You may recall the 747 taxiing into the hangar in late 1998, with our victorious Commonwealth Games team on board, to be greeted by a waiting Prime Minister, John Howard.

In 1995, 51% of Qantas shares were floated and made available to the public, with the other 49% owned by overseas shareholders, the biggest being British Airways with 25%.

Qantas had 99 aircraft in its core jet fleet in early 1998, the majority of which are Boeing 737s, 747s and 767s. There are another 46 aircraft, being De Havilland, Shorts, British Aerospace and Cessna.


Qantas, with a staff of around 30,000 people over its network, operates an average of 565 flights per day to 55 domestic destinations and around 370 international flights per week to 51 destinations in 29 countries.

Qantas carries around 18.5 million passengers annually, on domestic and international flights.

Qantas is the second oldest airline in the world and has the best safety record by far. You may recall, in the movie Rainman, Dustin Hoffman insisting to Tom Cruise he would only fly Qantas. As this was not possible in mid-USA, they went by car.

More information on Qantas can be had by visiting - www.qantas.com.au


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