Qantas celebrated its 60th anniversary of flying
the Kangaroo Route between Australia and the United Kingdom on
1 December 2007.
The Chief Executive Officer of Qantas, Mr Geoff Dixon, said the
departure of the Lockheed Constellation Charles Kingsford Smith from
1 December 1947 marked the beginning of a new era of transportation
between the two countries.
“The service was the first scheduled Qantas flight to London on an
Australian owned aircraft with Australian crew,” Mr Dixon said.
“Prior to December 1947, Qantas cooperated with Imperial Airways to
provide a commercial link between Australia and the UK, with passengers
flying on Qantas to Singapore then with Imperial Airways for the
remainder of their journey to London.”
Mr Dixon said the Kangaroo Route remained one of the world’s most
historically important and celebrated air routes.
“The Kangaroo Route helped seal Qantas’ reputation as a leader in long
distance international air travel,” he said.
“While changes in air travel over the last 60 years have been
spectacular, this particular route has always had an iconic status for
us - and for the broader aviation industry.”
Qantas’ first Kangaroo Route service departed Sydney and flew to Darwin,
Singapore (overnight), Calcutta, Karachi, Cairo (overnight) and Tripoli,
before arriving in London after some 55 hours in the air and over 93
hours in total. The four-night journey carried 29 passengers and 11
“That first flight in 1947 was a momentous step in Australian aviation
and literally brought Australia closer to the rest of world,” Mr Dixon
“Our Kangaroo Route flights provided essential mail and passenger
services between Australia and the UK, with the first flight carrying
over 2,000lbs of food parcels to help Britain cope with postwar
Mr Dixon said new aircraft had changed the way Qantas flew the Kangaroo
Route over the years. The first Constellations were replaced by Super
Constellations, which in turn were replaced by Qantas’ first jet
aircraft - the Boeing 707, which reduced the trip from four days to 30
hours. The introduction of the Boeing 747-400 in 1989 further reduced
the journey, which now takes 23 hours with only one stop.
“While technology has brought significant developments to the Kangaroo
Route over 60 years, one of the biggest changes has been the cost of
Mr Dixon said the cost of a return fare in 1947 was £585 - a significant
sum of money, given the price of a suburban home was between £600 and
£800 and the typical weekly wage for many Australians at the time was
In 1945 it would have taken 130 weeks’ wages to pay for a return airfare
between Sydney and London. Today it takes less than two weeks’ wages.
“Air travel was an unattainable dream for most people in 1947, 60 years
later flying between Australia and the UK has become an everyday
occurrence for thousands of people, with Qantas alone operating four
return services to London each day, every day of the year,” he said.
“While the nature of the aircraft and the journey today are greatly
different from 1947, one thing remains constant - the Kangaroo Route
still provides a vital link for business and leisure travellers between
Australia and the UK.”