Qantas Company History

This prestigious national airline of Australia came into existence in 1920. It has its base in Sydney and is colloquially known as 'The Flying Kangaroo'. Besides being the largest airline in Australia, it is also the oldest airline in the world with a continuous record of operations ever since it came into existence.

This year, the airline was voted the seventh-best airline. That, unfortunately, marks a steady drop in its ranking since 2005, when it was the second-best airline in the world. Nevertheless, it is still considered a four-star airline by Skytrax. Qantas begin their frequent flyer program in the early 90's and since then its grown to have a 90% share of the business traveler market in Australia.

After its debut in 1920, the airline's international operations extended to Singapore from Darwin in 1935, and in 1938 this was substituted by a flying boat service that operated three times a week.

The airline was nationalised in 1947 by the Labor government of that time, and the Qantas board did not oppose the move as that seemed to be a logical move in the circumstances of the day. It however began its operations to Tokyo through Darwin and also to Manila, making use of Avro Lancastrian aircraft. The same aircraft were also used for operations between Sydney and London. However, they were substituted by the more spacious and powerful Douglas DC-4s.

Qantas took a quantum leap when it started operating to many other countries around the world. It flew to London using Asia as a transit hub and also made its presence felt in the Middle East. The acquisition of the Lockheed Electra, with turboprop technology, in 1959, made things a lot easy for the airline.

The decade of the sixties saw the airline travel grow exponentially and Qantas made some significant investments in opting for larger Boeing 707-338C aircraft. The airline also took advantage of the second world route of flying to London through Tahiti, Bermuda, as well as Mexico City in 1966.

However, it was in 1974 that the airline proved its mettle by evacuating a record 673 people on one 747 Boeing flight from cyclone-ravaged Darwin.

The Government of Australia decided to sell its domestic airline to Qantas in 1992, and that was a significant expression of faith in the airline allowing it to operate as a pan-domestic airline within Australia. This is when the airline also introduced and added Boeing 737s and Airbus A300s to its fleet.

The airline could not avoid privatisation in 1993, and British Airways took a controlling 25% stake with another substantial stake floated as a public offer in 1995. Investors from other parts of the world saw a great investment opportunity in the airline and ended up buying 20%, making it an airline that was owned 55% by Australia and 45% by others outside Australia.

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