リーディング＆リスニング “Qantas History”
Recently the country’s oldest airline, Qantas, turned 100. We find out about the history of flight in Australia, how our airlines are being affected by COVID-19 and what the future might hold.
Australia is a pretty enormous place, imagine trying to get around it without a plane. Well for a long time that was a thing until these guys, Hudson Fysh and Paul McGinness, had a thought while travelling across the Queensland outback.
JACK AS FYSH & McGINNESS: Gosh Australia is a big place. Tell me about it. Hey why don’t we, instead of driving, carry mail, cargo, even people by aeroplane? Gee that’s a cracker of an idea.
It sure was, but back then in 1919 planes were still fairly new. In fact, most people were pretty terrified of the idea of a big hunk of metal soaring through the sky. But not Fysh and McGinness, they had both flown planes during the First World War and thought that maybe they could be used to deliver mail and people from A to B. A year later, on the 16th of November 1920, they founded the Queensland and Northern Territory Aerial Services or Qantas. There were doubters, like the postmaster at the time.
JACK AS POSTMASTER: Airmail? That’ll never work.
But a few months later Qantas took off on its first ever mail and passenger flight from Charleville to Cloncurry. This guy, Alexander Kennedy, was their first ever passenger and when they were soaring through the sky yelled, be damned to the doubters. Over the next several years Qantas really started to soar. The planes got improvements including one with a toilet and they started making longer trips, not to the toilet. In 1934 Qantas teamed up with Britain’s Imperial Airlines for their first international flight. 15 passengers travelled from Darwin to the UK in just 9 days with only 36 stop overs. Which apparently was impressive at the time.
After the Second World War the government bought Qantas and created a domestic airline called TAA. The other main airline was Ansett and for the next few decades if you were flying in Australia chances are, you’d either be on one or the other. In fact, they were the only two airlines allowed to fly between capital cities. And they were busy, more and more people took to the sky as flying got quicker, cheaper and safer. In fact, Qantas was famous for its lack of major accidents. In the 90s the government decided to sell Qantas and let other airlines join the mix. But the competition was too much for Ansett which shut up shop for good in 2002.
Since then the airline industry’s seen its ups and downs and right now it’s definitely down. COVID-19 has made it really hard for airlines to stay aloft and many workers have been stood down or lost their jobs. Earlier this year Virgin announced it couldn’t pay its debts. It was sold to new owners and while it’s still in business it’ll have make some changes. As for Qantas while it hasn’t been the best year last week was a time to celebrate and while we don’t know what the future will hold the flying kangaroo has cemented it’s place in Aussie aviation history.