Qantas is Australia's oldest and largest airline, and the world's second oldest airline (after KLM). Its IATA designator is QF.
The company was founded on 16 November 1920 as "Queensland and Northern Territory Aerial Services Limited", but soon became known simply as Qantas, and adopted that name officially.
Qantas was nationalised in 1947 by the Australian Labor Party Federal Government when Ben Chifley was Prime Minister. It remained in public ownership for over four decades until the 1990s, and was successfully privatised, listing on the Australian Stock Exchange with the ticker symbol QAN.
A Qantas Boeing 747 flies low over the roofs of Myrtle Avenue at the south east corner of London (Heathrow) Airport
Since the merger with Australian Airlines in 1993, it has flown an extensive schedule between all Australian capital cities, as well as many regional cities and towns. It also flies many international routes to and from Australia.
Qantas has a reputation for being an aggressive competitor in the Australian aviation market. Over the years, several domestic Australian airlines have gone out of business amid complaints of anti-competitive pricing by Qantas and exorbitant prices on the newly non-competitive routes. After September 2001, and the collapse of Ansett Airlines, Qantas held a near monopoly on the Australian domestic air travel market. Virgin Blue, a cut-price competitor, has eaten into this market share somewhat, and Qantas has responded by creating a new, cut-price subsidiary airline named Jetstar. Qantas hopes that this move will "crowd out" the cut-price segment of the market, allowing Qantas to remain the superdominant player in the Australian domestic aviation market and one of the few profitable full-service airlines in the world.
On 13 December 2004, the first flight of Jetstar Asia Airways took off from its Singapore hub to Hong Kong, marking Qantas' entry into the Asian cut-price market, and its intentions in battling key competitor Singapore Airlines at its home ground. Qantas is already the second largest airline operating out of Singapore Changi Airport, while Singapore Airlines is also reciprocately the second largest airline operating international flights into and out of Australia.
Qantas has attempted to expand into the New Zealand domestic air travel market, first with a shareholding in Air New Zealand, then by a franchise takeover of Ansett New Zealand. As of July 2003, they were awaiting regulatory approval to purchase a larger (but still minority) stake in Air New Zealand.
In 1993 British Airways bought a 25% share in the company for A$665m. In September 2004, British Airways disposed of its share in Qantas, expected to amount to A$1.1bn ($759m). BA's original 25% share was diluted since to 18.5% due to the issue of more shares. By law, Qantas must be at least 51% Australian-owned, and the British Airways holding had brought foreign ownership to the maximum permissible. Commentators believe the sale, and resulting greater Australian ownership, will free up hurdles for Qantas to expand into Asia.
It is often claimed, most notably in the movie Rain Man, that Qantas has never had a fatal crash. However, the company's official line is that it has never lost a jet aircraft. Prior to the jet era, Qantas had fatal crashes. One was on July 16, 1951, when a Qantas deHavilland Drover registered VH-EBQ crashed in New Guinea after an engine failure, killing all 7 passengers and crew. Other fatal accidents occurred in 1927, 1934, 1942, 1943 (2), and 1944. Qantas' record in the jet era was spotless until VH-OJH, a Boeing 747-400, over-ran the runway while landing in a rainstorm at Bangkok in 1999.  (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/asia-pacific/456110.stm) There were no fatalities. Repairs to the nine year old aircraft cost in excess of A$100 million and it was suggested at the time that this expense was to solely avoid a hull-loss being recorded, a claim Qantas denied. The following year a 747-300 was damaged when its landing gear collapsed while taxiing at Rome.
Qantas is responsible for some of the most successful marketing campaigns in Australian history, with many advertising campaigns featuring renditions by children's choirs of Peter Allen's I Still Call Australia Home, set to footage of breathtaking scenery.
(As of 2004)
See full article: Qantas destinations
Other facts of interest
- The first aircraft owned by Qantas was Avro 504K G-AUBG, purchased for £1425. Cruising speed was 65 mph, carrying 1 pilot and 2 passengers.
- In the 1920s, Qantas built a number of aircraft (De Havilland DH50's and a single DH9) under license in its Longreach hangar.
- In 1928, a chartered Qantas aircraft conducted the inaugural flight of the Royal Flying Doctor Service of Australia, departing from Cloncurry.
- The first Qantas Boeing 707 was delivered to the airline in Seattle on 26th June 1959.
- Qantas' Boeing 707s were nicknamed The V jets.
- Actor John Travolta owns a former Qantas Boeing 707.
- Qantas has three nicknamed planes: Wunala Dreaming, a Boeing 747-400 (registration VH-OEJ), Nalanji Dreaming, a Boeing 747-300 (registration VH-EBU), and Yananyi Dreaming, a Boeing 737-800 (registration VH-VXB). All three carry striking colourful liveries, designed by Australian Aborigines. British Airways used these designs on their tailfins as part of their 1997 "ethnic art" relaunch.
- Qantas website (http://www.qantas.com.au/)
- QANTAS ephemera (http://nla.gov.au/nla.aus-vn1072196) digitised and held by the National Library of Australia