Qantas is the name and callsign of the national airline of Australia. It is the oldest and largest airline in its country and second oldest in the world after KLM, the national airline of the Netherlands. Qantas was formerly an acronym for the Queensland and Northern Territory Aerial Services. Its International Air Transport Association code is QF. Its International Civil Aviation Organization code is QFA. The company is traded on the Australian Stock Exchange as QAN.
Qantas was founded in Queensland on 16 November 1920; its parent company was called Queensland and Northern Territorial Aerial Services Limited. In an act of corporate rebranding, the company dropped the parent company name and instead replaced it with the popularized airline acronym. Qantas was nationalised in 1947 by the reigning Australian Labor Party, led by Prime Minister Ben Chifley, in the Parliament of Australia. As the government trended away from socialist policy over national services, in favor of capitalist policies that supported private ownership, Qantas was privatised in the 1990s and was christened as Qantas Airways Limited.
In 1990 Qantas established Australia Asia Airlines in order to operate services to Taiwan. Several Boeing 747SP and 767 aircraft were transferred from Qantas service. The airline ceased operations in 1996.
Since the merger with Australian Airlines in 1993, it has flown an extensive schedule between all Australian capital cities, as well as many regional cities and towns. It also flies many international routes to and from Australia.
Qantas has a reputation for being an aggressive competitor in the Australian aviation market. Over the years, several domestic Australian airlines have gone out of business amid complaints of anti-competitive pricing by Qantas and exorbitant prices on the newly non-competed routes. After September 2001 and the collapse of Ansett Airlines, Qantas held a near-monopoly on the Australian domestic air travel market. Virgin Blue, a cut-price competitor, has eaten into this market share somewhat, and Qantas has responded by creating a new cut-price subsidiary airline Jetstar. Qantas hopes that this move will "crowd out" the cut-price segment of the market, allowing Qantas to remain the superdominant player in the Australian domestic aviation market and one of the few profitable full-service airlines in the world.
On 13 December 2004, the first flight of Jetstar Asia Airways took off from its Singapore hub to Hong Kong, marking Qantas' entry into the Asian cut-price market, and its intentions in battling key competitor Singapore Airlines on its home ground. Qantas is already the second-largest airline operating out of Singapore Changi Airport, while Singapore Airlines is the second-largest operator of international flights into and out of Australia.
Qantas has attempted to expand into the New Zealand domestic air travel market, first with a shareholding in Air New Zealand, then by a franchise takeover of Ansett New Zealand. As of July 2003, they were awaiting regulatory approval to purchase a larger (but still minority) stake in Air New Zealand.
In 1993 British Airways bought a 25% share in the company for A$665m. In September 2004, British Airways disposed of its share in Qantas, expected to amount to A$1.1bn ($759m). BA's original 25% share had been diluted to 18.5% by the issue of more shares. By law, Qantas must be at least 51% Australian-owned, and the British Airways holding had brought foreign ownership to the maximum permissible. Commentators believe the sale, and resulting greater Australian ownership, will free up hurdles for Qantas to expand into Asia.
Qantas is responsible for some of the most successful marketing campaigns in Australian history, with many advertising campaigns featuring renditions by children's choirs of Peter Allen's I Still Call Australia Home, set to footage of breathtaking scenery.
Incidents and accidents
It is often claimed, most notably in the movie Rain Man, that Qantas has never had a fatal crash. However, the company's official line is that it has never lost a jet aircraft. Prior to the jet era, Qantas had fatal crashes. One was on 16 July 1951, when De Havilland Drover VH-EBQ crashed in New Guinea after an engine failure, killing all 7 passengers and crew. Other fatal accidents occurred in 1927, 1934, 1942, 1943 (2), and 1944. Qantas' record in the jet era was spotless until Boeing 747-400 VH-OJH over-ran the runway by 220 metres while landing in a rainstorm at Bangkok in 1999.  There were no fatalities; however, the Australian Transport Safety Bureau criticised numerous inadequacies it alleged in Qantas' operational and training processes.  Repairs to the nine-year-old aircraft cost in excess of A$100 million and it was suggested at the time that this expense was to solely avoid a hull-loss being recorded, a claim Qantas denied. The following year a 747-300 was damaged when its landing gear collapsed while taxiing at Rome.
See full article: Qantas destinations
The Qantas fleet consists of the following aircraft (at March 2005):
- 4 Airbus A330-200
- 7 Airbus A330-300 (further 3 on order)
- 6 Boeing 737-300
- 21 Boeing 737-400
- 24 Boeing 737-800 (further 4 on order)
- 5 Boeing 747-300
- 30 Boeing 747-400 (Of which 6 are Boeing 747-400/ER (Extended Range))
- 24 Boeing 767-300
The QantasLink fleet includes (as at 2004):
Qantas has placed an order for 12 Airbus A380-800. It will be the second airline (after launch customer Singapore Airlines) to receive an A380 and will take delivery of its first aircraft in October 2006. It is to place the first 4 aircraft on trans-Pacific routes from Melbourne and Sydney to Los Angeles and later aircraft on services between Australia and London via Bangkok, Hong Kong and Singapore (ref: Airliner World, March 2005).
Other facts of interest
- The first aircraft owned by Qantas was Avro 504K G-AUBG, purchased for �1425. Cruising speed was 105 kilometres per hour (65 mph), carrying 1 pilot and 2 passengers.
- In the 1920s Qantas built a number of aircraft (De Havilland DH50s and a single DH9) under licence in its Longreach hangar.
- In 1928 a chartered Qantas aircraft conducted the inaugural flight of the Royal Flying Doctor Service of Australia, departing from Cloncurry.
- The first Qantas Boeing 707 was delivered to the airline in Seattle on 26 June 1959.
- Qantas Boeing 707s were nicknamed V jets.
- Actor John Travolta owns a former Qantas Boeing 707.
- Qantas has three named planes: Wunala Dreaming, Boeing 747-400/ER VH-OEJ, Nalanji Dreaming, Boeing 747-300 VH-EBU, and Yananyi Dreaming, Boeing 737-800 VH-VXB. All three carry striking colourful liveries, designed by Australian Aborigines. British Airways used these designs on their tailfins as part of their 1997 "ethnic art" relaunch.
- Its first international destination was to Singapore.
- Qantas Fleet Detail
- Qantas Passenger Opinions
- Qantas ephemera digitised and held by the National Library of Australia
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