1947

Qantas starts Kan­ga­roo Route

Business Traveller (Asia-Pacific) - - SNAPSHOT -

Alex McWhirter looks back at the launch of the car­rier’s Syd­ney-Lon­don ser­vice, which marks its 70th an­niver­sary this year

It’s gen­er­ally un­der­stood that the “Kan­ga­roo Route” refers to the many air ser­vices link­ing Europe with Australia via South­east Asia. But, in truth, the term is a Qantas trademark. It ap­plies only to Qantas ser­vices link­ing the UK with Australia via the Eastern Hemi­sphere.

Qantas be­gan fly­ing Syd­ney-Lon­don via the Kan­ga­roo Route in De­cem­ber 1947 us­ing a Lock­heed Con­stel­la­tion. There were 29 pas­sen­gers and 11 crew and the flight called at Dar­win, Sin­ga­pore, Cal­cutta, Karachi, Cairo and Tripoli. Overnight stops were made in Sin­ga­pore and Cairo.

Over the years, flights be­came faster, pas­sen­ger numbers in­creased and the route was shared with BOAC, later to be­come Bri­tish Air­ways (BA). To­day, the route has changed be­yond all recog­ni­tion. The past few decades have seen a big rise in air­lines based in the Gulf and Asia. These in­di­rect car­ri­ers now dom­i­nate the mar­ket, with many dozens of daily ser­vices to nu­mer­ous cities Down Un­der, while Qantas and BA ser­vices are re­duced to a to­tal of three one-stop flights daily from Lon­don to Syd­ney and Mel­bourne.

Now Qantas plans to re­gain some of its lost Kan­ga­roo Route pres­tige. It will in­au­gu­rate a Perth-Lon­don non-stop ser­vice in March next year us­ing the B787 Dream­liner – a far cry from the noisy and slow Con­stel­la­tion of 1947.

Pic­tured: Kan­ga­roo Route posters from the 1940s and 50s

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