In 1935 Qantas started flying passengers to Singapore in a De Havilland 86 to connect with London-bound Imperial Airways. London to Brisbane service commenced on 13 April 1935. Imperial Airways and Qantas Empire Airways opened the 12,754 mile London to Brisbane route for passengers for a single fare £195. There were no through bookings on the first service because of heavy sector bookings, but there were two through passengers on the next flight that left London on 20 April. The route opened for passengers from Brisbane to London on 17 April; flights were weekly and the journey time was 12½ days including the rail trip between Paris and Brindisi.
BOAC/Qantas landplane flights from England (Hurn) to Sydney began in May 1945, initially via Learmonth; after a Lancastrian vanished on the Indian Ocean crossing in 1946 the route shifted back to Singapore. The ABC Guide for September 1947 shows six flights a week from Sydney to England: three Lancastrians that took 77 hr 30 min to Heathrow and three flying boats that took 168 hr 55 min to Poole. In February 1959 Qantas' fastest Super Constellation took 63 hr 45 min Sydney to Heathrow and BOAC's Britannia took 49 hr 25 min. Jet flights (Qantas 707) started in late October 1959; in April 1960 the fastest trip Sydney to London was 34 hr 30 min with eight stops.
Qantas first flew the Kangaroo Route on 1 December 1947. A Lockheed Constellation ferried 29 passengers and 11 crew from Sydney to London, with stopovers in Darwin, Singapore, Calcutta (Kolkata), Karachi, Cairo and Tripoli (passengers would stay overnight in Singapore and Cairo). A return fare was £585, equivalent to 130 weeks average pay. Qantas changed the routing to variably include other interline stops, including Frankfurt, Zürich, Athens, Belgrade, Rome, Beirut, Tehran, Bombay and Colombo.
From January 1958 Qantas had a round-the-world network with aircraft flying Australia to Europe westward on the Kangaroo Route and eastward on the "Southern Cross Route" (via the United States and the Pacific). In 1964 Qantas started a third route to London via Tahiti, Mexico and the Caribbean, called the "Fiesta Route". Qantas dropped their transatlantic flights in the 1970s (and dropped the Fiesta Route entirely) but other airlines, such as Air New Zealand, still fly from Australia to London via the Western Hemisphere.
In 1959 Qantas introduced Boeing 707s to the Kangaroo Route and in 1971 added Boeing 747s. These aircraft cut the time from Europe to Australia, as well as the number of stops (from the late 1970s flights would typically travel via Singapore and Bahrain). Fares dramatically fell, opening air travel to more people, with Qantas subject to increasing competition on the Kangaroo Route.
In September 1965 Qantas launched the first V-Jet service through Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, for the Sydney–Kuala Lumpur–London route. In June 1969 Qantas had eleven 707s a week from Sydney to London, taking 29-32 hours with 5-6 stops each; BOAC's nine 707 flights (or possibly seven) had 5-7 stops.
In 1989 Qantas set a world distance record for commercial jets when a Boeing 747–400 flew non stop London to Sydney in just over 20 hours.
By 2003 some twenty airlines operated services between the United Kingdom and Australia including Air China, Air New Zealand, British Airways, Cathay Pacific, China Airlines, China Eastern Airlines, Emirates, Etihad Airways, Japan Airlines, Korean Air, Malaysia Airlines, Qantas, Thai Airways, Singapore Airlines, and Virgin Atlantic.
Since 16 January 2009 Qantas has used Airbus A380s on some flights.
Until early 2012 Air Mauritius flew Airbus A340s to Sydney and Melbourne via Mauritius.
In September 2012, as part of a new arrangement with Emirates, Qantas announced that - commencing in 2013 - all through services to the United Kingdom would stop at Dubai, and their "Asian services will no longer be a subsidiary of the 'Kangaroo Route'". A hub in the middle of a route is more effective than a hub at either end as connecting traffic more easily fills the plane. However, they will still continue to fly to Frankfurt via Singapore.
Read more about this topic: Kangaroo Route
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