Tag Archives: QANTAS Airways

CNN: QANTAS CEO says passengers will need to be vaccinated for international flights

From CNN:

“Australia’s national carrier Qantas will require future international travelers to prove they have been vaccinated against Covid-19 before flying.
The airline’s CEO Alan Joyce said in an interview with CNN affiliate Nine News on Monday that the move would be a “necessity” when coronavirus vaccines are readily available.
Joyce said the airline was looking at changing its terms and conditions to “ask people to have a vaccination before they get on the aircraft.”

QANTAS and Jetstar boost flights to the Sunshine State

 

QANTAS Airways and Jetstar Airways will operate more than 1200 extra return flights into the Sunshine State from New South Wales and Victoria in the lead up to Christmas, following the decision by the Queensland Government to lift border restrictions.

From December 1, 2020, the two airlines will operate more than 250 return flights per week across seven routes from Sydney. This compares with just 36 return flights per week currently.

Pending a final decision from the Queensland Government, QANTAS and Jetstar will also operate more than 160 flights per week from Melbourne from December 1. Jetstar will also operate four weekly services from Avalon to the Gold Coast from January.

The easing of border restrictions means both airlines will reinstate more than 10 routes which had been suspended providing more choice and a mix of premium and leisure travel.

The additional flights will return the Qantas Group’s flying schedule to around 60 percent of pre-COVID levels by Christmas. Both airlines will continue to monitor demand closely and look to add more flying as required.

Current route map:

Airline Route Current weekly return flights Weekly return flights December Lead-in fare (one-way)
Qantas Sydney-Brisbane 25 63 $199
Jetstar Sydney-Brisbane 4 44 $85
Qantas Sydney-Gold Coast 0 8 $153
Jetstar Sydney-Gold Coast 4 64 $69
Qantas Sydney-Hamilton Island 0 4 $233
Jetstar Sydney-Hamilton Island 0 7 $129
Qantas Sydney-Cairns 0 7 $236
Jetstar Sydney-Cairns 3 24 $144
Jetstar Sydney-Sunshine Coast 0 12 $79
Jetstar Sydney-Townsville 0 7 $124
Jetstar Newcastle-Gold Coast 4 4 $61
Jetstar Sydney-Proserpine 0 3 $109
Jetstar Melbourne-Proserpine 0 4 $146
Qantas Melbourne-Brisbane 0 28 $225
Jetstar Melbourne-Brisbane 0 35 $122
Qantas Melbourne-Gold Coast 0 7 $192
Jetstar Melbourne-Gold Coast 0 44 $114
Qantas Melbourne-Cairns 0 4 $287
Qantas Melbourne-Sunshine Coast 0 7 $199
Jetstar Melbourne-Sunshine Coast 0 15 $113
Jetstar Melbourne-Townsville 2 7 $125
Jetstar Avalon-Gold Coast 0 4 $99

In other news, QANTAS on November 23 operated its first flight between Mildura and Sydney, coinciding with the opening of the New South Wales border to Victoria.

The route was originally scheduled to start in March but was delayed due to COVID-19 and travel restrictions.

Flights will operate four days per week with the airline’s 50-seat Q300 turboprop aircraft, offering more than 20,000 seats on the route each year.

The new service will be the only direct connection between Sydney and Mildura, saving travellers around two hours compared to flying via Melbourne.

QantasLink also operates direct flights between Mildura and Melbourne.

QANTAS aircraft photo gallery:

Sydney puts on a show for QANTAS Airways Centenary

Sydney has commemorated Qantas Airways’ 100-year anniversary by lighting up its iconic Sydney Harbour Bridge as a larger-than-life birthday cake complete with illuminated candles that were blown out by a Qantas 787 as it did a low level overfly at 1,500 feet.

More than 1,300 LED tubes, 126 LED fixtures and 38 searchlights lit up the full expanse of the world’s most famous bridge in the ultimate tribute from Sydney, the city which has been home to Qantas for more than eight decades. The projection of 60 historic images and two, 65-metre-high birthday candles onto the southern and northern pylons completed the transformation, creating a birthday moment like no other.

Almost 200 passengers, including 100 Qantas staff, were on board the 100-minute flight which was a special Centenary Scenic Flight to mark the airline’s 100th year. The spectacular candle-blowing lights off moment was a surprise for not just those on the ground, but also those on board the flight which also took in showcased Sydney Harbour, HARS Aviation Museum in Shellharbour and Rose Bay – where Qantas Flying Boats were used in the 1930s and ’40s.

Qantas Group Chief Executive Officer, Alan Joyce said Qantas was honoured to receive such a special and spectacular Centenary birthday show from Sydney”.

“Qantas aircraft have been flying over Sydney Harbour Bridge for decades, so this was a spectacular way to mark our anniversary. It’s been a tough year for tourism but as more domestic borders open up, we’re ready to put more aircraft back in the air and bring people to see all that New South Wales has to offer,” he said.

The activation, executed by Destination NSW, the NSW Government’s tourism and major events agency, complements a new campaign of activity designed to support the recovery of Sydney hospitality and tourism businesses.

Destination NSW Chief Executive Officer, Steve Cox said the Qantas Centenary provided an opportunity to send out a message of hope, both to Sydney businesses and to residents of Sydney and New South Wales.

“Sydney continues to shine as brightly as ever, with tourism businesses steadily reopening and operating in a COVID-safe environment, putting the wellbeing of visitors first. This stunt was just the beginning of what will be a truly amazing line-up of events coming up across the city, and we are looking forward to welcoming visitors from across Australia to Sydney this summer,” said Mr Cox.

Video:

QANTAS Airways celebrates 100 years of serving Australia

QANTAS Airways made this announcement:

Queensland and Northern Territory Aerial Services (QANTAS) today (November 16, 2020) marks 100 years since it was founded in the Australian outback.

On November 16, 1920, two veterans of the Australian Flying Corps, Hudson Fysh and Paul McGinness, together with local grazier Fergus McMaster, founded what would later become the national carrier.

This happened just 17 years after the first powered flight by the Wright Brothers, two years after the end of World War One and at the tail end of the last major global pandemic, the Spanish Flu.

The new airline focused on conquering the “tyranny of distance” that was a major barrier to the growth of modern Australia. Its early chances of success were uncertain, to the point early backers called their investment “a donation”.

Initially carrying mail between outback towns, the airline was flying passengers to Singapore by the 1930s. By the end of the 1940s its strategic importance saw it nationalized and in the 1960s it was an early adopter of the jet aircraft that mainstreamed global travel. Qantas invented business class in the 1970s, switched to an all-747 fleet in the 1980s, was privatised in the 1990s, founded Jetstar in 2004, went through major restructuring in 2014 and, by 2020, had recently completed several important ‘firsts’ in non-stop travel to Europe and the US.

Qantas is the oldest continuously-operating airline in the world and the only one that (normally) flies to every single inhabited continent on earth.

Planned centenary celebrations have been significantly scaled back due to the impact of COVID – but Qantas will still mark the occasion with a low-level flyover of Sydney Harbour on the evening of its anniversary.

The flight path is expected to pass near Rose Bay where our Empire Flying Boats took off for Singapore between 1938 and 1942.

Video:

QANTAS adds three new routes from Canberra

QANTAS Airways has announced a major expansion of its network from the nation’s capital with three new routes commencing in the next month from Canberra.

Details of the three new routes are:

  • Canberra-Sunshine Coast will operate three times a week and start on Thursday 19 November
  • Canberra-Cairns will operate twice a week and starts on Saturday 21 November
  • Canberra-Hobart will operate three times a week and starts on Friday 4 December

The flights will be operated by QantasLink’s dual class Boeing 717s featuring 12 seats in Business and 98 seats in Economy. The new routes follow on from the recent successful launch of Canberra-Gold Coast flights, the reinstatement of flights to Perth and additional services to Brisbane.

Since state and territory border restrictions eased in September, Qantas has announced nine new routes across Australia.

Comments – to be attributed to Qantas Domestic & International CEO Andrew David

“With international borders still closed, Australians are more inspired than ever to explore places in their own backyard.

“We’ve taken a fresh look at our network, creating new direct services, which were previously only available by connecting via another city, saving customers up to two hours travel time.

“These flights are great news for travellers who will now have more direct flights between Canberra and Cairns, Noosa and Hobart. It will also mean we can get more of our people back to work.”

 

World’s first Airbus A321P2F enters revenue service with QANTAS

ST Engineering, Airbus and their joint venture, Elbe Flugzeugwerke (EFW) achieved a key milestone in their joint A321 passenger-to-freighter (P2F) conversion program in September this year with the re-delivery of the ‘head of version’ to launch customer, Vallair. The Airbus A321 converted freighter, operated by QANTAS Airways for Australia Post, entered into service on October 27, 2020.

Both milestones marked the completion and ‘birth’ of the world’s first A321 converted freighter. EFW had received the original Supplemental Type Certificate (STC) for the A321P2F from the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) in February this year, and the Validation STC from the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration in July. Operator specific enhancements were subsequently incorporated into the freighter and certified prior to its re-delivery.

 

The A321P2F is the first in its size category to offer containerised loading in both the main (up to 14 full container positions) and lower deck (up to 10 container positions). With a generous payload-range capability that can above 28 metric tons (more than 61,800 lbs) over 2,300 nautical miles, the A321P2F is the ideal narrowbody freighter aircraft for express domestic and regional operations. The conversion features a large main cargo door which is hydraulically actuated and electrically locked, a Class E cargo compartment with full rigid 9g barrier for optimal protection between crew and cargo, and a redefined flight deck that includes supernumerary seats and a new lavatory.

The collaboration between ST Engineering, Airbus and EFW is the only OEM solution for A321P2F in the market. EFW, which is leading the overall programme as well as marketing & sales efforts, has been seeing a keen interest in the solution, which is expected to further grow with the first A321P2F unit entering the market. To meet rising demand for dedicated freighter aircraft, ST Engineering and EFW are planning to set up additional modification sites in China, Germany and the U.S. by 2023 to ramp up conversion capacity to about 23 slots per year.

QANTAS to launch a new route between Sydney and Launceston

QANTAS Airways has announced it will launch a new route between Sydney and Launceston for the summer holidays following the easing of border restrictions between New South Wales and Tasmania.

Beginning December 4, 2020, QANTAS will operate three return services per week with its Boeing 717 aircraft, increasing to four return services from the following week onwards until February 1, 2021.

This will give travellers almost 900 additional seats on the route each week. The airline will look to add more flights beyond eight week period if there is demand. This is the first time the flying kangaroo has flown Launceston-Sydney since 2004.

With borders opening up, QANTAS will also restart flights between Hobart to Sydney, with 11 return services per week from November 6, 2020.

This announcement follows two other new routes the QANTAS Group has launched to Tasmania in response to demand – Brisbane-Hobart with QANTAS and Gold Coast-Hobart with Jetstar.

As a result of these additional flights, the QANTAS Group will offer more than 125,000 seats between Tasmania and the mainland in December, representing more than 10 percent of total published QANTAS Group domestic capacity for the month.

QANTAS Airways aircraft photo gallery:

 

QANTAS to end its relationship with Rugby Australia and the Wallabies

QANTAS Airways has made this announcement:

Qantas has reviewed its five key sporting sponsorships as it continues to manage the fallout from COVID on the aviation industry.

The review examined how the national carrier could continue its association with existing partners using in-kind support (for example, commercial flights as well as access to Qantas-owned channels for marketing), given its need to conserve cash while travel restrictions remain in place.

As a result of the review and negotiations with partners, Qantas will continue its association with Cricket Australia and the Football Federation of Australia on an in-kind basis over the next 12 months, with a further review at that time.

The national carrier will also continue its association with the Australian Olympic Committee and Paralympics Australia, with a view to supporting our athletes at the rescheduled Tokyo Games in 2021.

Regrettably, Qantas is not in a position to continue its 30 year relationship with Rugby Australia beyond the end of this calendar year.

Qantas Chief Customer Officer, Stephanie Tully, said: “In an environment where thousands of our people have lost jobs and thousands more are stood down while they wait for flying to restart, we can’t maintain these sponsorships in the way we have in the past. While we’re dealing with this crisis and its aftermath, the cash cost of our sponsorships has to be zero.

“Without exception, our partners have been incredibly understanding of the situation, particularly as most are facing their own COVID challenges.

Photo: Stuart Walmsley/Rugby AU Media

“Qantas has had a very long association with Rugby Australia and the Wallabies, and we’ve stuck with each other during difficult times. Unfortunately, this pandemic has been the undoing. Like all Australians, we’ll continue to cheer them on from the sidelines.”

“Sadly, we will have to end several of our arts and community sponsorships, but we’ve agreed to maintain a connection with a number of them, including the National Gallery of Australia and Museum of Contemporary Art in the hope there are projects we can work on together in future.

QANTAS Airways Airbus A380-842 VH-OQH (msn 050) (Go Wallabies - Stronger as One) LHR (SPA). Image: 931397.

Copyright Photo: QANTAS Airways Airbus A380-842 VH-OQH (msn 050) (Go Wallabies – Stronger as One) LHR (SPA). Image: 931397.

“Our focus right now is getting through this crisis, which unfortunately means lots of difficult decisions like these. We know things will eventually recover and, when they do, we’ll be ready to support Australian cultural and sporting life, in whatever form that takes.”

Qantas remains committed to its work with Indigenous and regional communities, including through its five-year Regional Grants program. The national carrier will continue to work closely with Tourism Australia and state-based tourism bodies to provide in-kind support to stimulate domestic tourism as borders re-open, and promote Australia to the world once international travel resumes.

QANTAS Group reports its yearly profit was down 91%

QANTAS Group made this announcement:

  • Underlying Profit Before Tax: $124 million (down 91%)
  • Statutory Loss Before Tax: $2.7 billion (majority of which is non-cash, including aircraft
    write downs)
  • $4 billion revenue impact from COVID crisis in 2H20
  • Operating cash flow: $1.1 billion
  • Liquidity of $4.5 billion providing considerable buffer to manage uncertainty
  • Significant progress on initial steps of three-year recovery plan

 

In what has been the most challenging period in its long history, the Qantas Group reported a $124 million Underlying Profit Before Tax for the 12 months ended 30 June 2020, down 91 per cent on the prior year.

This reflects a strong first half of the year ($771 million Underlying Profit Before Tax) followed by a near total collapse in travel demand and a $4 billion drop in revenue in the second half[1] due to the COVID-19 crisis and associated border restrictions.

Fast action to radically cut costs and place much of the flying business into a form of hibernation helped minimise the financial impact from this extraordinary sequence of events. From April to end of June, Group revenue fell 82 per cent while cash costs were reduced by 75 per cent, helping to limit the drop in Underlying Profit Before Tax in 2H20 to $1.2 billion[2].

At the statutory level, the Group reported a $2.7 billion Loss Before Tax –– due mostly to a $1.4 billion non-cash write down of assets including the A380 fleet and $642 million in one-off redundancy and other costs as part of restructuring the business for recovery.

Despite significant uncertainty across most markets, the Group remains well positioned to take advantage of the eventual return of domestic and, ultimately, international travel demand. In the meantime, Qantas Freight and Qantas Loyalty continue to generate significant cashflow and charter operations for the resources sector are performing strongly.

 

CEO COMMENTARY

Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce said the second half of FY20 was the toughest set of conditions the national carrier had faced in its 100 years – but that it had the resilience to deal with them.

“The impact of COVID on all airlines is clear. It’s devastating and it will be a question of survival for many. What makes Qantas different is that we entered this crisis with a strong balance sheet and we moved fast to put ourselves in a good position to wait for the recovery.

“We’ve had to make some very tough decisions in the past few months to guarantee our future. At least 6,000 of our people will leave the business through no fault of their own, and thousands more will be stood down for a long time.

“Recovery will take time and it will be choppy. We’ve already had setbacks with borders opening and then closing again. But we know that travel is at the top of people’s wish lists and that demand will return as soon as restrictions lift. That means we can get more of our people back to work.

“COVID is reshaping the competitive landscape and that presents a mix of challenges and opportunities for us. Most airlines will come through this crisis a lot leaner, which means we have to reinvent how we run parts of our business to succeed in a changed market.”

Mr Joyce said the FY20 result showed how the COVID crisis had derailed what would have been a strong financial performance.

“We were on track for another profit above $1 billion when this crisis struck. The fact that we still delivered a full year underlying profit shows how quickly we adjusted when revenue collapsed.

“Qantas Loyalty’s profit was down less than 10 per cent and member satisfaction increased in the fourth quarter, which shows the strength of that business. Qantas Freight has been a major beneficiary of the shift to people shopping online and our charter flying for resources companies is strong.

“COVID will continue to have a huge impact on our business and we’re expecting a significant underlying loss in FY21.

“Looking further ahead, we’re in a good position to ride out this storm and make the most of the recovery. Our market position is set to strengthen as the only Australian airline with a full service and low fares domestic offering as well as long haul international services,” added Mr Joyce.

 

GROUP DOMESTIC

A very strong performance by Group Domestic in the first half more than offset the 50 per cent drop in revenue in the second half caused by COVID-related restrictions.

Qantas Domestic achieved EBIT of $173 million while Jetstar’s domestic flying achieved EBIT of $112 million, including absorbing a $33 million impact of industrial action over the peak summer period.

Both Qantas and Jetstar demonstrated high levels of adaptability in responding to cascading domestic border restrictions – cutting costs and maximising limited revenue opportunities. This included launching new Qantas routes such as Sydney to Ballina and Orange, and redeploying A320s to meet resources sector demand in Western Australia.

A three-day Jetstar sale in June saw some 150,000 fares sold, reaching a record rate of 220 bookings per minute – demonstrating the latent demand for travel when borders do re-open.

As a result of the Group’s main domestic competitor significantly reducing its fleet and closing its low-cost carrier, the Group expects its market share to naturally grow from around 60 per cent to up to 70 per cent as the market recovers.

 

GROUP INTERNATIONAL

Qantas International made a $56 million profit for the year, driven largely by a record performance by Qantas Freight and a huge increase in e-commerce.

The Group’s regular scheduled international flights effectively ceased in April, replaced by over 100 services operated by Qantas on behalf of the Federal Government to cities including Hong Kong, London, Los Angles, Lima, Buenos Aires and Mumbai.

Jetstar’s international businesses moved into losses driven by border closures. Domestic flying in New Zealand was planning a return to near-full capacity by end-August but remains flexible given changing restrictions.

Jetstar Asia in Singapore is reducing its fleet and workforce by more than 25 per cent. Jetstar Japan was impacted by local lockdowns but resumed all domestic routes in July and is planning to operate 75 per cent of pre-COVID capacity in August.

In June, the Group announced its plans to exit Jetstar Pacific in Vietnam, of which it is a 30 per cent shareholder.

 

QANTAS LOYALTY

Qantas Loyalty achieved an underlying EBIT of $341 million – the largest single positive contribution to the Group’s FY20 profit and only 9 per cent lower than its result last year. The main reasons for this decline were lower earnings from travel-related products and a softening in consumer spending on credit cards.

Total Frequent Flyer membership increased by 4 per cent and membership of the Qantas Business Rewards program (aimed at small enterprises) increased by 20 per cent.

Despite limited opportunities to redeem points for travel, Frequent Flyer member satisfaction set a quarterly record in Q4. This is supported by engagement initiatives including automatic extension of tier status for 12 months; more opportunities to earn points on the ground, including with BP fuel (with more than 500,000 signing up for this part of the program) and Afterpay (with 55,000 members signing up to earn in the first four weeks); and a significant increase in reward seats on domestic flights.

Other new businesses, including retail, health insurance and car insurance, continued to diversify Loyalty’s earnings.

 

GOVERNMENT SUPPORT

The Group acknowledges the significant industry assistance provided by the Federal Government in response to COVID, reflecting the importance of aviation to the broader economy.

As one of the most heavily impacted companies, the Qantas Group collected $267 million in JobKeeper payments, the majority of which was paid directly to employees on stand down and the rest used to subsidise wages of those still working.

Qantas and Jetstar operated a series of domestic, regional and international flights on behalf of the Federal Government, as well as some freight services, to maintain critical links that had been made commercially unviable by travel restrictions. These flights were operated on a fee-for-service basis, with fare revenue offsetting the cost to the taxpayer.

To 30 June 2020, the total gross benefit of Government support was $515 million and the net benefit (after costs for flights operated) was $15 million.

The nature of ongoing industry assistance means the level of support received in FY21 will depend on the amount of flying activity.

 

SUPPORTING OUR CUSTOMERS

A number of customer initiatives were introduced during the year, including:

  • Launched the Fly Well program with range of measures (including masks, hand sanitising stations, changes to inflight service) to ensure a safe travel environment and give extra peace of mind.
  • Offered customers with new bookings the option to move flights with no change or cancellation fees.
  • Significantly increased flexibility for travel credits as well as providing refunds.

 

SUPPORTING OUR PEOPLE

In recognition of the significant impact of the COVID crisis on its people, the Group has put a variety of support mechanisms in place, including:

  • Working with other companies to connect people on stand down with secondary employment opportunities.
  • Offering a suite of support mechanisms, including financial counselling and psychological support.
  • Running weekly virtual town hall meetings to give updates and answer live questions.
  • Offering voluntary (rather than compulsory) redundancy wherever possible and providing large severance payouts for long-serving employees in particular.

 

FINANCIAL FRAMEWORK

The Group’s available liquidity was $4.5 billion at 30 June 2020, including $1 billion of undrawn facilities.

The Group successfully raised more than $1.4 billion through a fully underwritten institutional placement and retail Share Purchase Plan.

As at 30 June 2020, net debt was $4.7 billion and remains at the lower end of the target range. The Group has no major debt maturities until June 2021 and no financial covenants on debt.

Planned net capital expenditure was reduced by $400 million in the second half for a total of $1.6 billion for FY20. Significant further reductions are forecast in FY21 with the deferral of 787-9 and A321neo deliveries to meet the Group’s requirements.

 

FUEL HEDGING

The Group’s fuel consumption was fully hedged for the second half of FY20 and 90 per cent hedged for the first half of FY21 with significant participation to falling prices. Given the significant decline in flying activity from April 2020 and the anticipated decline in fuel consumption in FY21, the Group has recognised $571 million of de-designated hedge losses in the FY20 statutory result.

 

UPDATE ON RECOVERY PLAN

Implementation of the three-year recovery plan, announced in June 2020, is well underway. The plan will create a stronger platform for future profitability, long-term shareholder value and preserve as many jobs as possible.

Several key parts of the plan are complete or in progress, including:

  • Around 4,000 of at least 6,000 redundancies expected to be finalised by end-September 2020, with continued union consultation.
  • Ongoing stand down of around 20,000 employees, enabling retention of core skills until work returns.
  • Early retirement of the Boeing 747 fleet and more than 100 aircraft now in storage (in a state that significantly reduces the need for ongoing maintenance).
  • Raised $1.4 billion in equity in addition to the $1.75 billion of long term debt funding secured during the second half of FY20.

The plan targets $15 billion in benefits over three years from reduced activity, with $1 billion per annum in ongoing cost savings from FY23 through efficiency gains across the Group.

Recent developments in Victoria and the reimposition of some border restrictions in other parts of Australia are not expected to have a material impact on the delivery of the three-year plan.

 

OUTLOOK

The Group’s recovery plan allows for a high level of flexibility given uncertainty on border restrictions and travel demand, while also acknowledging the critical nature of air transport to the Australian economy. Key assumptions and indicators at this stage include:

Group Domestic

  • Given current border restrictions, 20 per cent of pre-COVID Group Domestic capacity is scheduled for August.
  • Recent sales activity shows high levels of latent travel demand when restrictions are eased.

Group International

  • International network unlikely to restart before July 2021; possibly earlier for Trans Tasman.

Loyalty

  • Expected to continue strong cash flow contribution in FY21.
  • Recovery in domestic travel an opportunity to increase reward seats and maintain member engagement.
  • Actively growing opportunity to earn points on the ground, but this is linked to broader consumer confidence levels.

Qantas Freight

  • Domestic demand expected to remain strong due to growth in e-commerce.
  • Strong international freight demand expected to continue but not at peak levels seen in 4Q20.

 

QANTAS today bids farewell to the Boeing 747

QANTAS Airways made this announcement:

QANTAS will today (July 22) mark the end of an era with the departure of the national carrier’s last Boeing 747 jumbo jet.

The final Boeing 747-400 in the fleet (registration VH-OEJ) (above) will depart Sydney at 2 pm as flight number QF7474, bringing to an end five decades of history-making moments for the national carrier and aviation in Australia.

QANTAS took delivery of its first 747 (a -200 series) in August 1971, the same year that William McMahon became Prime Minister, the first McDonalds opened in Australia and Eagle Rock by Daddy Cool topped the music charts. Its arrival – and its economics – made international travel possible for millions of people for the first time.

The fleet of 747 aircraft not only carried generations of Australians on their first overseas adventures, they also offered a safe voyage for hundreds of thousands of migrant families who flew to their new life in Australia on board a ‘roo tailed jumbo jet.

Above Photo: QANTAS. In the 1990s QANTAS commissioned two striking Indigenous liveries for 747s as part of its Flying Art Series. The Nalanji Dreaming livery (front) featured on VH-EBU, with Wunala Dreaming (behind) adorning two 747s (VH-OJB and VH-OEJ).

QANTAS 747s were at the forefront of a number of important milestones for the airline, including the first Business Class cabin of any airline in the world. Their size, range and incredible reliability meant they were used for numerous rescue missions: flying a record 674 passengers out of Darwin in the aftermath of Cyclone Tracy; evacuating Australians out of Cairo during political unrest in 2011 and flying medical supplies in and tourists home from the Maldives and Sri Lanka following the Boxing Day Tsunami in December 2004.

The last rescue missions the 747 flew for QANTAS were to bring hundreds of stranded Australians home from the COVID-19 epicenter of Wuhan in February this year.

QANTAS brought forward the scheduled retirement of the fleet by six months after the COVID-19 pandemic decimated international travel globally.

QANTAS has flown six different types of the 747, with Boeing increasing the aircraft’s size, range and capability over the years with the advent of new technology and engine types.

QANTAS’s first female Captain, Sharelle Quinn, will be in command of the final flight and said the aircraft has a very special place in the hearts of not just QANTAS staff, but aviation enthusiasts and travelers alike.

Captain Quinn and crew will fly the 747 to Los Angeles with a full cargo hold of freight before its final sector to the Mojave.

VH-OEJ is scheduled to depart Sydney at 2.00 pm. Weather permitting, it will do a flyby of Sydney Harbour, CBD and northern and eastern suburbs beaches as well as a low level overfly of HARS Museum (Albion Park) where it will dip the wings in a final farewell to QANTAS’ first 747-400, VH-OJA, which is preserved there.

The aircraft will then head out over the Pacific Ocean, as the sun sets on a 50-year love affair with Australians and their beloved Queen of The Skies.

Fast Facts

Flight number:              QF7474

Aircraft registration:      VH-OEJ

Aircraft name:               Wunala

Year delivered:             2003 (30th July)

  • The first QANTAS 747-238 was VH-EBA, named City of Canberra and the first ever QANTAS 747 flight was on September 17, 1971 from Sydney to Singapore (via Melbourne), carrying 55 first class and 239 economy passengers.
  • In almost 50 years of service, the QANTAS Boeing 747 fleet of aircraft has flown over 3.6 billion kilometers, the equivalent of 4,700 return trips to the moon or 90,000 times around the world.
  • QANTAS operated a total number of 65 747 aircraft including the 747-100, 747-200, 747SP, 747-300, 747-400 and the 747-400ER and each had specific capabilities such as increased thrust engines and increased take-off weight to allow longer range operations.
  • The 747SP was the first 747 model that allowed nonstop operations across the Pacific in 1984 which meant travelers no longer had to “hop” their way across the Pacific and could fly from Australia to the west coast of the US nonstop. The 747-400 which QANTAS operated from 1989 opened up the US west coast cities nonstop, and one-stop to European capitals.
  • In 1979, QANTAS became the first airline to operate an all Boeing 747 fleet.
  • The 747 also broke records, including in 1989 when QANTAS crew flew a world first nonstop commercial flight from London to Sydney in 20 hours and nine minutes. That thirty-year record was only broken in 2019 when QANTAS operated a 787 Dreamliner London-Sydney direct in 19 hours and 19 minutes.
  • The QANTAS 747-200, -300 and -400 models had a fifth engine pod capability that could carry an additional engine on commercial flights, a capability that was used extensively in early days of the 747-200 when engine reliability required engines to be shipped to all parts of the world. Improved engine reliability of the 747-400 and 747-400ER made this capability redundant.

Video:

QANTAS Airways aircraft photo gallery:

QANTAS Airways aircraft slide show:

https://airlinersgallery.smugmug.com/frame/slideshow?key=p9wq3x&speed=3&transition=fade&autoStart=1&captions=0&navigation=0&playButton=0&randomize=0&transitionSpeed=2