100 Years of Qantas

In the space of a century, Qantas has transformed from three men operating two small aircraft to a global airline pioneering non-stop flights from London to Sydney. To celebrate our flag carrier’s centenary, two of Australian Aviation’s most acclaimed writers chart the journey – warts and all – from 1920 to the present day. Eric Allen, the man responsible for Australian Aviation’s Yesteryear column, begins the story from Qantas’ origins to pre-war, before passing on the baton to regular contributor Chris Frame, who charts the course to the present day

A Lockheed Constellation used by Qantas to fly to both London and Pacific routes between 1947 and 1954. (Qantas)
1920–1938
The formation

The establishment of a world-leading airline commenced with humble beginnings when the Queensland and Northern Territory Aerial Services Ltd (QANTAS) was registered in Brisbane on 16 November 1920, with an authorised capital of £100,000 in £1 shares. Founders Wilmot Hudson Fysh, Paul Joseph McGinness and Fergus D McMaster could not have possibly imagined the path it would follow and the vast expansion that lay ahead, with its development into an Australian icon. The company’s registered office was at Winton, Queensland, with Fysh and McGinness as pilots, McMaster as provisional chairman with provisional directors A N Templeton, Alexander Kennedy, T B McIntosh and McGinness, with W A (Arthur) Baird as mechanic. 

Australian domestic services begin 

Qantas’ need for aircraft to commence services, saw an order placed for two Avro 504Ks with the Australian Aircraft and Engineering Co Ltd (AA&ECo) at Mascot, sole Australian agents for Avro, for both sales and manufacture. The aircraft were to be powered by a Sunbeam Dyak engine in preference to a Clerget engine requiring a redesign of the front fuselage performed by Harry Broadsmith, one of the AA&ECo partners. Broadsmith joined Avro in March 1913 and was the chief engineer and manager of its Manchester factory. 

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