The Safe Airline
November 16, 1920: Qantas is founded. Originally known as QANTAS, the name was an acronym for Queensland and Northern Territory Aerial Services. Australia’s largest airline is nicknamed The Flying Kangaroo and is the second oldest in the world, with only KLM older (and still in operation). DELAG, was the world’s first airline and was founded in 1909, but it ceased operations in 1935. Qantas began operations in March 1921 using Avro 504K planes. These biplanes were flown by a crew of two and had a cruising speed of 75 mph and a maximum speed of 90 mph. They were initially an air mail service subsidized by the Australian government.
Between 1926 and 1928, the company built several aircraft and made the first Royal Flying Doctor Service of Australia in 1928. The one year experiment, headed by Reverend John Flynn, brought medical services to remote areas and helped to establish hospitals in bush communities of the Outback. Qantas began international flights in May 1935 when they began flying from Darwin to Singapore. They were beginning to provide flying boat services when World War II interrupted air travel. In 1947, Qantas was nationalized with Labor government of Australia buying shares of the company. They also took possession of Lockheed L-749 Constellations which were used to fly to London. In 1958, they became the second round-the-world airline and flew Super Constellations westward from Australia to London through Asia and the Middle East.
Qantas ordered their first jet, a Boeing 707-138, which was delivered in June 1959 with their first jet flight offered on July 29 of that year. It flew from Sydney to San Francisco via Nadi and Honolulu. On September 5, Qantas became the third airline to fly jets across the North Atlantic. The airway helped out during a crisis when Cyclone Tracy devastated Darwin at Christmas 1974. They established a world record for the most people ever embarked on a single plane when they evacuated 673 people on a single Boeing 747 flight. They retired their last 707 plane in March 1979 and became the first 747-only airline.
Qantas, the safe airline, has never lost a jet airliner. It is the true they have had no jet fatalities. Prior to the jet age, they had eight fatal accidents and lost 63 people. Half of these were shoot-down occurrences during World War II. The last fatal accident from Qantas was in 1951. It is consistently ranked as one of the world’s safest airlines. Today, their 134 planes fly to 41 destinations. They are headquartered in Mascot, New South Wales, Australia with Leigh Clifford as AO (Chairman) and Alan Joyce as CEO. Their revenue last year was $15.9 billion (Australian) with a net income of A$6 million. They have 33,265 employees who are happy to say, “You’re the reason we fly.”
Airlines are interesting. They not only favor celebrities, they court them. – Phil Donahue
Airlines go in the long run at the competition to reason. For the passenger the competition is good, because each competitor tries to undercut the other one. – Niki Lauda
The easiest gift to give my husband is anything to do with airlines and flying. – Kelly Preston
If anyone wonders why the airlines are not doing well it is because flying has been made such an unpleasant and degrading experience. – Keith Henson
Also on this day: The Fugitive? – In 1966, Dr. Sam Sheppard was finally acquitted of his wife’s 1954 murder.
UNESCO – In 1945, UNESCO was founded.
Wagons, Ho – In 1821, the first Santa Fe trail crossing was completed.
Sentenced – In 1849, Fyodor Dostoevsky was sentenced to death.