Qantas CEO Alan Joyce looks back on the eight decades since Qantas began flying internationally.
On 17 April 1935, Qantas’ first international passenger flight took off from Brisbane for Singapore.
Fast forward to 2015 and Qantas is a global airline with 30,000 employees and 300 aircraft, flying 50 million passengers a year. The flying kangaroo has become an iconic Australian brand, loved at home and respected around the world.
What happened in between is part of the story of Australia itself.
Queensland and Northern Territory Aerial Services was founded in 1920 by Paul McGinness and Hudson Fysh, two young Gallipoli veterans. They saw the potential for a new air service to conquer Australia’s ‘tyranny of distance’. And just fifteen years later, their airline was flying overseas.
Qantas expanded rapidly after the Second World War, becoming the first airline to fly round the world via both hemispheres and the first to offer a commercial jet service over the Pacific.
In the 1950s and 60s, Qantas helped Australia build a new relationship with the United States on a route that remains one of our most popular.
In the 1970s, Qantas Boeing 747s made long haul air travel affordable for millions of Australians. It’s easy to forget how revolutionary this was, but it marked the start of the overseas holidays that many of us now consider normal. It was at this time too that Qantas transformed customer service by inventing business class.
In the 1980s, 90s and 2000s, as globalisation gathered pace, Qantas helped open up the Australian economy and build new ties with fast-growing Asia.
Throughout it all, Qantas has been there for Australians in times of need, whether at home when cyclones hit the Northern Territory and Queensland or overseas after the Bali Bombings, the Boxing Day tsunami, or the uprising in Egypt.
These experiences have created a unique emotional bond between Qantas and the Australian community. That’s reflected today in our commitment to safety, service and care; our support for charities and good causes of all kinds; and the work we do to promote the best of Australia on every Qantas aircraft, wherever we fly.
Everyone at Qantas today is a custodian of this amazing legacy. The world has changed, markets are more open and competition is tougher. But Qantas is ready for a new era of innovation and growth. And ready to take Australians wherever they want to go in the world.
On behalf of everyone at Qantas, thank you for your support of our national carrier.