Qantas will continue to operate all flights from London Heathrow to Australia via Darwin until at least June 2022.
When Qantas resumed scheduled flights from London Heathrow to Australia in late 2021, it chose to route flights to both Melbourne and Sydney via Darwin instead of Perth and Singapore.
Qantas had planned to reinstate non stop flights from London to Perth from Sunday 27 March 2022. These are postponed until at least June 2022. This is due to the decision by the Premier of Western Australia Mark McGowan to extend the closure of its international border.
Qantas has delayed the planned restart of scheduled international passenger flights from London Heathrow to Australia.
The airline has postponed the start of scheduled international flights by four months to 31 October 2020.
At this time Qantas plans to restart all of its pre COVID-19 international destinations, except for New York JFK, Osaka and Santiago. However, capacity will remain significantly reduced through frequency reductions and aircraft changes. The airline had also suspended the planned launch of a number of new international routes such as Brisbane to Chicago O’Hare and San Francisco.
Timetables currently indicated that Qantas will fly from London Heathrow non-stop to Perth and to Sydney via Singapore with the first flights departing London on Monday 1 November 2021. Both of these routes will be operated with Boeing 787-9 aircraft.
All 12 of Qantas Airbus A380 aircraft have been placed into long term storage. Qantas does not expect these aircraft to return to service until after 30 June 2023.
As for the long awaited order for Airbus A350-1000 aircraft capable of flying from London to Sydney non-stop, this remains deferred.
A consistent theme is Qantas unashamedly positioning itself as the national airline of Australia. Qantas has never been one for abstract concepts in advertising. Due to the country’s geography with Australians overseas being a long distance away from home, the airline also likes to emphasis its role in reuniting Australians.
“I Hate Qantas”
A grumpy koala that lived by the motto “I Hate Qantas” featured in Qantas TV adverts from 1962 to 1992.
Devised by Qantas’ US advertising agency, the live koala voiced by the late actor Howard Morris, bemoaned Qantas for bringing tourists to Australia and disturbing its solitude.
The grumpy koala was given something to smile about in 1989 when Qantas launched a non-stop service between Los Angeles and Auckland.
“The Flying Kangaroo”
“We’re Coming To Get You”
“I Still Call Australia Home”
“I Still Call Australia Home” is one of Qantas’ most famous advertising campaigns.
The latter adverts featured children’s choirs performing Peter Allen’s song at various locations around the world. This was at a time when airlines had the budgets for such extravagance.
On the afternoon of 26 May 1971, staff at Qantas House in Sydney received an unexpected telephone call.
At 12:15pm local time, a man identifying himself only as “Mr Brown” advised Qantas that a barometric bomb had been placed on board one of its Boeing 707 aircraft.
The aircraft had left Sydney 45 minutes earlier and was en route to Hong Kong with 116 passengers and 12 crew members.
Mr Brown claimed the bomb would be automatically exploded by a change in air pressure as the aircraft descended from its normal cruising altitude of 30,000 feet to 20,000 feet.
To prove that he was not bluffing Mr Brown advised that a similar bomb had been placed in a locker at Sydney airport. The bomb, made of gelignite with an altimeter-triggered detonator, was located shortly afterwards.
With the second bomb there were three typewritten notes. One written to Qantas General Manager Captain R J Ritche demanded AU$500,000 in exchange for instructions on how to locate and dismantle the bomb on board the aircraft.
To test the veracity of Mr Brown’s threat, the second bomb was diffused. Its explosives were replaced with a light bulb. The diffused bomb was put on board a second Boeing 707. It climbed to 8,500 feet. When it descended back to 5,000 feet the light bulb lit up.
Qantas immediately notified the aircraft’s Captain, William Selwyn. A thorough search of the aircraft was ordered. Passengers were only told that there was a technical difficulty – though many could tell that a bomb was suspected to be on board – and the aircraft would have to circle in the air until it could land in Sydney.
The aircraft returned to the East Coast of Australia and spent three hours circling over Brisbane and a further two and a half hours circling over Sydney.
With the aircraft running out of fuel, Qantas agreed to pay the AU$500,000 ransom. After hurriedly securing funds from its bank, without time to take numbers of the bank notes, a drop off was arranged outside Qantas House. The money was placed in two suitcases and put in the back of a van.
After doing so, Qantas was told there was no bomb on board the aircraft. The bomb threat was a hoax. The aircraft then landed safely in Sydney with just 15 minutes’ fuel left. Military aircraft and navy vessels were deployed by the Australian government in case the aircraft did not land safely.
In the first part of our series on Qantas in the UK, we looked at its early co-operation with Imperial Airways and BOAC. In part two we looked at how the Boeing 707 established Qantas as a round-the-world airline. Part three looked at how the Boeing 747 transformed flying to Australia.
“No British Airways ownership of our Qantas. Piss off poms.”
By the end of the 20th century Qantas remained the dominant airline carrying passengers to Australia with an around 40% share of international traffic.
This was owed, in part, to a close relationship over many decades with BA and its predecessor airlines Imperial Airways and BOAC.
In 1993, when BA had ambitions to be a major global airline, it beat Singapore Airlines to acquire a 25% stake in Qantas in ahead of its full privatisation in 1997.
Not everyone was enamoured with the idea. One particularly dissatisfied Australian put up a sign “No British Airways ownership of our Qantas. Piss off poms.” at Sydney airport.
BA and Qantas formed a joint-business in 1995 to co-operate on Europe – Australia services. This involved co-ordination of fares, schedules and many joint airport lounges throughout Asia. BA and Qantas also shared aircraft, with BA leasing 7 Boeing 767 aircraft to Qantas.
At the turn of the century, with a focus on reducing complexity in its operations, BA turned its attention away from Australia. To reduce the amount of debt on its balance sheet BA also sold its stake in Qantas.
Meanwhile, Qantas saw its future in the Airbus A380 carrying ever larger numbers of passengers to Europe and the Middle East. Towards the end of 2000, Qantas ordered 12 aircraft. A further 8 were ordered in 2006 (International Herald Tribune), but this was subsequently cancelled.
BA and Qantas explored a merger in 2008. The deal was pulled after the two airlines could not agree on the relative shares in the combined business. Given the physical distance between the UK and Australia, it is hard to see how the merger could have achieved the synergies BA has done with Iberia. Legally, it would have to had to comply with the Qantas Sale Act which caps foreign ownership of Qantas. It could have also faced huge political opposition in Australia.
In the first part of our series on Qantas in the UK, we looked at its early co-operation with Imperial Airways and BOAC. In part two we looked at how the Boeing 707 allowed Qantas to establish itself as a round-the-world airline.
It is no exaggeration to say that, throughout the 1970s and 1980s, the Boeing 747 transformed flying between Europe and Australia, enabling it to be ultimately reached with just one stop en route.
The Boeing 747B At Qantas
Qantas’ first Boeing 747 aircraft was the 747B. This had the same dimensions as the first version of the 747, but with a longer range and higher maximum take-off weight.
It had capacity for 356 passengers, with the galleys located below the main deck. In common with other airlines, there was a dedicated “Captain Cook” lounge for First Class passengers on the Upper Deck with a nautical theme and a rather lurid 1970s colour scheme!
The economy cabin shows that the 1970s was certainly the decade that taste forgot.
Qantas’ first Boeing 747 flight departed London Heathrow for Sydney via Bahrain and Singapore on Friday 26 November 1971. Flights initially operated twice weekly on Fridays and Sundays.
In March 1974, Qantas added a second one-stop service from London Heathrow to Perth via Mumbai with a journey time of around 20 hours.