One hundred years to the day of its first commercial flight, Qantas commemorated the event with a recreation flight in outback Queensland.

Qantas Boeing 787 painted with 100th Birthday Livery
Photo: Qantas

This week, Qantas commemorated the airline’s first passenger and mail delivery flight, which happened on November 2nd, 1922. On Tuesday, Qantas flight QF6660 set off from Charleville to recreate that first Qantas flight across the Queensland outback.

This is where Qantas started

Qantas Pilot Paul McGinness (third from L) prepares to depart from Charleville for Longreach on 2 November 1922. The mailbag containing 106 letters is proudly displayed in front of the Qantas FK8 aircraft.

Photo: Qantas

Qantas was founded in 1920 and spent the first two years just like today’s startup airlines, getting its house in order and raising money to buy aircraft. The first commercial flight was on November 2nd, 1922, when co-founders and pilots Paul McGinness and Hudson Fysh flew the plane over the remote and barren Queensland outback for two days from Charleville to Longreach and Cloncurry. McGinness piloted the open cockpit FK8 biplane from Charleville to Longreach, with Fysh flying the second sector from Longreach to Cloncurry.

The arrival at Longreach

Qantas The first service arrives at Longreach on 2 November 1922 greeted by an enthusiastic crowed in front of the hangar that is now part of the Qantas Founders Museum

Photo: Qantas

Luckily for the family members of the Qantas founders, top-tier frequent flyers and guests with a connection to early Queensland airmail services, the commemorative flight was on a Bombardier Q400 Turboprop. The aircraft followed the same 548-mile (882 kilometers) route taken by McGinness and Fysh and carried a replica of the original mailbag, the first airmail delivery by Qantas. The mailbag will contain 106 handwritten letters from Charleville school kids to the children of Longreach and Cloncurry.

Hudson Fysh flew the second leg

Qantas co-founder Hudson Fysh

Photo: Qantas

It was also about airmail

The commemorative flight is also about the link between Qantas and Australia Post and the airline’s role in connecting people, mail and cargo across the vast Australian landscape. Qantas CEO Alan Joyce said this week’s flight celebrates the entrepreneurship and innovation of the airline’s founders a century ago, which still exists in Qantas’ DNA today. He added that the founding chairman Fergus McMaster said the first flight was a small beginning that would develop into one of the greatest services in the world. Joyce said:

“Qantas has gone from that single biplane flight 100 years ago to the brink of a new era in aviation with our airbus A350 on order, positioning us to fly people and parcels direct from Australia to any city in the world.”

Qantas AusPost

Photo: Qantas

On the subject of new aircraft and parcels, Qantas is converting one of its 28 Airbus A330s passenger widebodies into a freighter aircraft for Australia Post cargo. It will have a freight capacity of about 42 tonnes when converted, around double what the current Qantas Airbus A321P2Fs (passenger to freighter conversions) carry for Australia Post. The A330P2F is due to enter service in 2023, and Qantas has also committed to six more A321P2F conversions.

What are your finest memories of historical happenings at Qantas?



    IATA/ICAO Code:

    Airline Type:
    Full Service Carrier

    Brisbane Airport, Melbourne Airport, Sydney Kingsford Smith Airport

    Year Founded:


    Alan Joyce



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