Remarks from Qantas Executive International Sales, Stephen Thompson, delivered at an anniversary celebration in Singapore
Where it all Began
Good evening and thank you very much for joining us tonight.
We’re here to mark 80 years of Qantas International flights. And, of course, it all began here in Singapore, the destination for that very first service on the 17th of April, 1935.
Our inaugural flight departed Brisbane with just one passenger on board – an officer in the British Coldstream Guards. He was joined in Longreach by Lady Mountbatten, a colourful aristocrat married to an uncle of Prince Phillip.
Within three years of the first flight, flying boats were operating from Sydney’s Rose Bay to Singapore’s Kallang Airport, offering new standards of luxury in a 15-seat cabin.
As that suggests, flying in the 1930s was a pursuit for the elite. Qantas was part of a network that linked the countries of the British Commonwealth, while Singapore itself was still a British colony.
In the decades that followed, both Singapore and Australia have become increasingly strong, independent nations with a global outlook. And aviation has played a massive role in making it happen.
Emergence of a Global Carrier
From small beginnings, Qantas emerged as a truly global carrier – connecting Australia to Europe, North America and Asia.
With new jet aircraft, Qantas was able to take Australians further and make flying affordable for more and more people every year.
By the 1990s and 2000s, Qantas had a unique reputation for flying the world’s longest routes, for the highest standards of safety, and for service innovations like the invention of business class.
Qantas and Singapore – Stronger than Ever
Throughout this time, Singapore has remained a favourite destination for Qantas customers.
Like Singapore itself, we benefitted from Lee Kuan Yew’s vision for this city as a global aviation hub. And in 2015, the relationship between Qantas and Singapore is stronger than ever
Two years ago we restructured our international network and timetable to concentrate on Singapore as a business destination and regional hub for Qantas Group operations in Asia.
Today Qantas is focused on supporting business and premium leisure travel between Australia and Singapore. We offer 28 return services a week. And with our new, multi-million dollar premium lounge and refreshed A330 fleet – which made its debut on the Singapore route – we believe we have our best ever product in this hugely important market.
At the same time as strengthening Qantas, we have invested in the growth of Jetstar – one of Singapore’s favourite low cost carriers.
It’s appropriate that we’re celebrating this milestone in the year that Singapore marks 50 years of independence, and 50 years of bilateral relations with Australia.
We’re proud to have played a role in Singapore’s amazing growth – and we look forward to playing that role for many decades to come.
Foundations for Growth
This anniversary is not just about celebrating the past. It’s also about preparing for the future.
A lot has changed since those early international flights.
Markets have opened up. Competition is tougher. The Asia-Pacific is now the world’s biggest aviation region.
Qantas has evolved and adapted to this process of change. And over the past few years, we’ve transformed Qantas International for the realities of the modern, global aviation industry.
Today Qantas International is profitable once again. We’re earning record customer satisfaction. We’re growing in key markets. And we have strong foundations for further growth.
Here in Singapore and across our global network, we’re committed to providing you with the connections, the service, and the travel experience that you deserve and expect.