Qantas turns 100

Font Size:

“The story of Qantas is the story of modern Australia – past, present and future,” said Alan Joyce, CEO and managing director of Qantas Airways Limited. “It’s a remarkable and unlikely tale of how a humble air mail operation in outback Queensland became a national carrier flying over 50 million passengers a year.” 

On 16 November 1920, Qantas was founded and grew to become one of the world’s most renowned airlines. In celebration of Qantas’s 100th birthday, we’ve looked back over the past century to see just how this outback airline became a global carrier.

In 1920, World War One veterans Hudson Fysh and Paul McGinness dreamt of connecting Australia to the rest of the world with an air service. What started as local transportation, joy rides and charter work, based in Longreach in western Queensland, soon began to expand. In 1935, a Qantas DH–86 aircraft took three-and-a-half days to fly between Brisbane and Singapore. By 1938 Empire flying boats connected Sydney and Singapore, now with full cabin service.

Have you ever wondered where the airline’s name came from? It was originally registered as Queensland and Northern Territory Aerial Services Ltd (QANTAS).

Image sourced from

The spacious cabin onboard a Qantas flying boat, 1938. How different they used to look!

Image sourced from

What was the last outfit you wore flying? How did it compare to this 1930’s air travel fashion?

Image sourced from

When war was declared in 1939, Qantas transferred a number of aircraft to the Royal Australian Air Force but continued to operate domestic flights and those connecting Australia to Singapore.

In 1941, Qantas crews ferried 19 Catalina flying boats between the United States and Australia. The east to west aerial crossing of the Pacific Ocean had been done just once before at this time.

When Japan occupied much of Southeast Asia in 1942, Qantas ceased flights to and from Singapore. The same year, two Qantas Empire flying boats, used to evacuate servicemen and civilians from the Dutch East Indies, were shot down by Japanese aircraft. Qantas continued to evacuate people from across Southeast Asia and deliver urgent supplies to civilians and troops alike.

Image sourced from

From 1943, Qantas passengers aboard Catalina flying boats were awarded membership to ‘The Rare and Secret Order of the Double Sunrise’ for flying 5600km non-stop between Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) and Perth.

Image sourced from

Take a trip down memory lane with this light-hearted retelling of Qantas’s ‘Century of Safety’. This clip was shown on all Qantas flights from March this year. 

Have you flown with Qantas before? If you could fly on a Qantas plane of any era, which would it be? 

If you enjoy our content, don’t keep it to yourself. Share our free eNews with your friends and encourage them to sign up.

Join YourLifeChoices today
and get this free eBook!

By joining YourLifeChoices you consent that you have read and agree to our Terms & Conditions and Privacy Policy


Qantas to come out flying post-pandemic, but passengers may suffer

Investment service expects Qantas to recover much quicker than its competitors.

Top 20 safest airlines for 2020

Australia's favourite carrier is tops for safety.

Qantas and Jetstar announce suspension of international flights

‘This is having a devastating impact on all airlines,' says Qantas chief.

Written by livga


Total Comments: 0



    continue reading


    Mozzies biting? Here's how to choose a repellent - and how to use it

    Mozzies biting? Here's how to choose a repellent (and how to use it for the best protection) Shutterstock Cameron Webb,...


    Sir Bob Geldof on grief, fame and getting through it all

    I've hardly started questioning Sir Bob Geldof before he is off on a long, sweary rant about everything he thinks...


    Abandon Australia Day and choose the history we want to celebrate?

    Australia Day is the anniversary of the arrival of the First Fleet in Australia. On 26 January 1788, 11 convict...


    Speaking up for the disappearing art of listening

    Columnist Peter Leith is 91 and describes himself as "half-deaf and half-blind". But he sees and hears a lot and...


    Hyperpigmentation: How to tackle those tricky dark patches on your ski

    There are plenty of great things about summer - sunshine, picnics and fruity cocktails immediately spring to mind - but...


    Enthralling, dystopian, sublime: NGV Triennial has a huge 'wow' factor

    Refik Anadol: Quantum memories 2020 (render) custom software, quantum computing, generative algorithm with artificial intelligence (AI), real time digital animation...


    Where to eat, drink and play on Kangaroo Island

    Australia's third largest island is an oasis of pristine wilderness, premium produce and hidden secrets ripe for discovery. Easily accessible...


    Will you need a vaccination to visit Australian venues?

    State premiers have suggested that once vaccinations begin in Australia, those without vaccinations may be banned from visiting some venues...