Welcome to London Air Travel’s Monday Briefing for the week beginning 9 November 2020.
Qantas Prepares To Mark Its Centenary
Next Monday, 16 November, Qantas will mark 100 years since its incorporation as Queensland and Northern Territory Aerial Services Ltd.
With the aviation industry in a state of crisis, there is little cause or scope for celebration. At least Qantas can say this wasn’t of its own making.
It was rather fitting that in one of the earliest advertisements for the airline in November 1920, its name was printed incorrectly (this time as Northern Territory and Queensland Aerial Services Ltd), something that has continued for decades.
It was in the 1930s that Qantas began international services, forming Qantas Empire Airways with one of BA’s predecessor airlines, Imperial Airways.
The two airlines jointly operated the first regular air mail service between the UK and Australia in December 1934, with Qantas Empire Airways operating the route between Singapore and Australia.
Regular scheduled passenger service between the UK and Australia would begin in April 1935. The first trips took no less than 12 and a half days.
When commercial aviation resumed after the Second World War, Qantas began operating services to London in its own right using the Lockheed Constellation aircraft
In 1954, Qantas operated the “Southern Cross” route to Sydney via New York, San Francisco, Honolulu and Fiji. This would later be operated as a single around the world route with Super Constellation aircraft.
In the 1960s, aided by the Boeing 707, Qantas would introduce a second eastbound service to Australia via Hong Kong and another westbound service to Australia via Bermuda, Mexico and Tahiti, known as the “Fiesta route”.
The Boeing 747 introduced in 1971 transformed services between the UK and Australia, eventually enabling Australia to be reached with just one stop in Asia.
By the end of the 20th century Qantas remained the dominant international airline carrying passengers to Australia. Its status as the global airline for Australians was illustrated in its most famous TV advertising campaigns featuring children’s choirs performing Peter Allen’s “I Still Call Australia Home”.
The relentless rise of the Middle Eastern airlines, notably Emirates, contributed to a dramatic fall in Qantas’ market share from the turn of the century.
Prior to COVID-19, Qantas had planned to reassert itself on the international stage with new routes, including non-stop services from Sydney to London and New York. Qantas international services are now suspended due to COVID-19, with no date given for return.
Over this week, we’ll be looking back at 100 years of Qantas in the UK.
Also of note this week:
One of the great strategic errors an airline can make, along with selling Heathrow slots and buying minority stakes in other airlines, is selling off its frequent flyer programme. How Air Canada had to bring its frequent flyer programme back in-house. (Skift)
Locked in a hotel room for up to 72 hours. How COVID-19 ended what glamour there was in the life of a pilot. (Telegraph)
Qantas plans to remove staffed service and ticket sales desks from airports and lounges. (Sydney Morning Herald)
What happens to aircraft when the flying stops. (Virgin Atlantic)
Late post publication updates:
[Reserved for updates throughout the day]
Norwegian has given warning that it faces an uncertain future as the Norwegian government has advised that it will not provide further financial support to the airline. Norwegian has previously received state financial support through loan guarantees. It also underwent a significant financial restructuring earlier this year, with a debt for equity swap giving aircraft lessors shareholdings in the company.
British Airways’ franchise partner Comair has started taking bookings ahead of is planned return to service on 1 December 2020.
International Airlines Group’s share price has increased by 40% as of 12:30 GMT following a statement by Pfizer and BioNTech that its COVID-19 vaccine was found to be 90% effective in trials.
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