The infographic above is a snapshot of a brief history of Qantas, the Australia’s favourite airline, to answer the question: “What does Qantas stand for?”
Qantas Is the Australian Flag Carrier
Most of the world’s flag carrying airlines have their country’s name in its name. For instance, Air France, Japan Airlines, Air China, Aerolíneas Argentinas, Qatar Airways, Ethiopian Airlines, to name a few. But the flag carrier of Australia, Qantas, apparently doesn’t have “Australia” in its name. So, what does Qantas stand for?
The article below picks up some interesting facts about Qantas including its founding story.
Qantas Was Founded in 1920
Major aviation development took place in Europe and the US during the late 19th century and the early 20th century. Within the first two decades of the 20th century, more than 20 airlines were established in the regions. And Qantas was one of them.
On 16 November 1920, veterans Hudson Fysh, Paul McGinness, and Fergus McMaster founded Queensland and Northern Territory Aerial Services Ltd in the Queensland outback, Winton. Just before this, they had completed the first overland motor survey of northern Australia. And they envisioned connecting Australia to the world (or more specifically, to the British Empire) via Darwin in the Northern Territory.
By reading the above, you could guess the answer for “What does Qantas stand for?” Yes, you are right. Qantas is an acronym of Queensland and Northern Territory Aerial Services Ltd.
The first Qantas aircraft was an Avro 504K, a biplane aircraft used in the World War I. Initially, the company’s mainstay was joy-flights and charter work. The operation moved to Longreach in western Queensland in 1921. In 1922, the first regular flight began between small towns Charleville and Cloncurry (Both in Queensland but 1,000 km apart!). The first passenger was a Scottish colonist Alexander Kennedy, who then was 84 years old.
Singapore Was Qantas’ First International Destination
Britain’s Imperial Airways (today’s British Airways) and Qantas jointly founded a new airline, Qantas Empire Airways Limited (QEA) in 1934. QEA commenced international operation flying between Brisbane and Singapore via Darwin in 1935, aiming to connect Britain and Australia via Singapore. Imperial Airways operated the rest of the route to London. The commencement of the London-bound services marked the beginning of “Kangaroo Route,” flying the long distance in hops.
A four-engine DH86 served Qantas’ first overseas flight. The first overseas passenger from Singapore to Australia was Lady Edwina Mountbatten, who was the last vicereine of India as the wife of Rear Admiral The 1st Viscount Mountbatten of Burma.
World War II Disruption
World War II was declared in 1939, breaking out in Europe and gradually spread to the Pacific. QEA continued its services to Singapore until 1942 when the Japanese army occupied South East Asia. In the same year, the Imperial Japan launched air raid over Darwin and destroyed the Qantas hangar and facilities.
In dire need for alternative route to Britain, QEA started operating services from Perth to Ceylon and Karachi in 1943. Catalinas flew 5,600 km non-stop over the Indian Ocean with flying times of 28 to 33 hours.
It was during this period when Qantas started using the Flying Kangaroo logo that we see on Qantas fleet today.
Post-War Nationalization and International Expansion
The Australian government led by Labor Prime Minister Ben Chifley nationalized QEA in 1947, before which was the establishment of Trans Australia Airlines by the Commonwealth. Qantas’ domestic routes were transferred to Trans Australia Airlines, while Qantas operated overseas services.
Shortly after the nationalization, Qantas began its first regular services outside of the British Empire—to Tokyo on behalf of the Royal Australian Air Force. In 1949, the airline started flying to Hong Kong. Following Tokyo and Hong Kong, the airline began services to South Africa, North America, New Zealand, and more.
In 1992, Qantas merged with Trans Australia Airlines. Then the airline gradually became private through to 1997.
Foundation of Oneworld and Jetstar
In the late 1990s, airlines were increasingly keen to take partnership with others to optimize their resources. Following the foundation of Star Alliance in 1997, competing airlines founded Oneworld in 1999. Qantas was one of the founding members along with American Airlines, British Airways, Canadian Airlines, and Cathey Pacific.
During the late 1990s to the early 2000s, a new business model emerged and gained popularity in the aviation industry: the low cost carrier model (LCC). The LCC became successful first in the US; then Virgin Blue (now Virgin Australia) introduced the model to Australia. Qantas responded quickly to the new wave—it founded an LCC, Jetstar, in 2001.
In the same year, Qantas’ competitor Ansett Australia ceased operations due to a financial collapse. By contrast, Qantas network expanded vigorously, utilizing its LCC subsidiary. In the following years, it founded Jetstar Asia in Singapore, Jetstar Pacific in Vietnam, and Jetstar Japan.
Surprise or Not? Qantas Is the Best & Safest Airline
Despite recent chaotic problems—delays, cancellations, lost baggage, limited meal options—Qantas is the fifth best airline in the world in 2022, according to Skytrax World Airline Awards 2022. The airline jumped from 8th of 2021, making the top five list this year.
Not only this prestigious Skytrax title, but Qantas has also been chosen as the safest airline for multiple times: from 2014 to 2017, as well as in 2019 and 2020.
Celebrating its 100th anniversary, Qantas wrapped its 787-900 with special Centenary livery. The Dreamliner, named “Longreach,” features Qantas logos since the foundation in 1920. Take a look at this video unveiling Longreach.
Summing up | What Does Qantas Stand for?
Qantas—the Spirit of Australia—is an acronym of Queensland and Northern Territory Aerial Services Ltd that was founded on 16 November 1920. The company commenced air taxi services between small towns in Queensland.
Throughout its a century of history, the airline experienced a lot. Most importantly, it survived World War II despite the enemy’s horrendous attacks that disrupted its operation. It also went through nationalization and privatization, merging with Trans Australia Airlines. In recent decades, Qantas vigorously continued to expand, creating a low cost carrier Jetstar as its subsidiary.
The airline particularly had a tough time during the first few years of the COVID-19 pandemic. It halted most of its international services, cutting thousands of jobs.
However, the Flying Kangaroo is back in the air in 2022. Today, Qantas is proudly among the world’s best and safest airlines, winning the fifth place in Skytrax World Airline Awards 2022.