Qantas today celebrates the 50th anniversary of its first jet service between New Zealand and Australia.
On 10 April 1965, a 104 seat Qantas Boeing 707 (V-jet) aircraft departed Sydney for Christchurch, where it was welcomed by a 10,000 strong crowd. The new Boeing 707s offered a comfortable 20-seat First cabin and 84 seats in Economy.
Previously the Tasman route was serviced by a propeller-driven Electra International aircraft, and prior to that, Shorts Empire Flying Boats which seated a maximum of 15 passengers and took around nine hours to travel from Auckland to Sydney. The journey now takes around 3 hours.
The inaugural V-jet service was commanded by Chief Pilot Line Operations, Captain “Torchy” Uren and NZ-born cabin crew members Bob Bishop, Alan Williams and Alan Gill as well as Anne Claydon from Lyttelton in Christchurch. Qantas Founder Sir Hudson Fysh and Lady Fysh were onboard the inaugural service.
Qantas International CEO Gareth Evans said the fifty year milestone highlighted Qantas’ ongoing commitment to New Zealand.
“Qantas is proud of its flying history across the Tasman and New Zealand remains an important part of our international network,” said Mr Evans.
“Our humble beginnings of twice weekly jet services have evolved to a schedule of more than 200 flights per week, mostly operated by our fleet of next generation B737-800 aircraft.
“The milestone comes in a year when Qantas is investing significantly in the customer experience across the Tasman with a new dining experience in Economy, Champagne and luxury amenities in Business and a dynamic schedule enabling more flexibility and choice for customers,” added Mr Evans.
Qantas was established in New Zealand in 1940, when Tasman Empire Airways Limited (TEAL), formed by Qantas, Imperial Airways (BOAC), and a partnership of Union Airways of New Zealand and the New Zealand Government, inaugurated a weekly service between Sydney and Auckland.
In October 1961, Qantas began operations in its own right across the Tasman jointly with TEAL, serviced by an Electra international aircraft. On 10 April 1965, Qantas inaugurated a B707 service between Sydney and Christchurch.
Qantas today operates more than 200 flights per week between New Zealand and Australia, including services between Auckland and Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane; Wellington and Melbourne; and Christchurch and Sydney. Year-round weekly services between Queenstown and Sydney commenced in October 2005 and now operate three times per week, increasing to daily from Sydney and twice a week from Brisbane during the ski season. Jetstar also operates across the Tasman, and within New Zealand between Auckland, Christchurch, Wellington, Queenstown and Dunedin.
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