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Is a hundred years of QANTAS a cause for celebration or commiseration?

November 24, 2020 Aviation No Comments

Last week QANTAS celebrated 100 years since the flying kangaroo was launched, founded as what I believe was a really great airline, born on the resilience of the pioneers of aviation in outback Australia, as Queensland and Northern Territory Aerial Services, hence QANTAS, created with a focus on conquering the “tyranny of distance” that hindered the growth of modern Australia.

Really great foundations, but over time, has QANTAS lost its way?

Has QANTAS forgotten its reason for existence, its country roots, is it still conquering the tyranny of distance, or has it become a city centric, city slicker, money and return on investment maker and corporate leviathan?

I know QANTAS provides regional services, but how many of those are subsidised in one or another by regional, state or local government and if those subsidies did not exist, would the services?

Has conquering the “tyranny of distance” that was said at the time of its foundation to hinder the growth of modern Australia, seem to have gone out of the window as it did pretty quickly at QANTAS with the onset of COVID-19, with what appears to be a scant disregard for the growth of a modern Australia now afflicted by COVID-19,  with QANTAS stopping all international services, with their single minded focus appearing to be getting rid of staff and on the airline’s bottom line and not much more!

I wonder how the pioneers that set up what was a great flag carrying national airline, one I used to be proud to see in distant airports like Heathrow and Dubai, would they deal with COVID-19 if they were around today?

I imagine they would have faced up to the challenges as proud Australians with a firm resolution to do what they could as Australians as an airline that used to be Australia’s connection to the world.

But what did today’s QANTAS do?

It closed all its international services, irrespective of the tyranny of distance, with between them and the Federal Government’s caps left tens of thousands of Aussies stranded overseas.

In the meantime, what did other airlines that are still proud national carriers of other countries like Dubai’s Emirates, the UAE’s Etihad and Qatar’s Qatar do?

Well, they kept flying as much as they possibly could while our ex-national carrier appeared to be busy sending aircraft to the desert, with at a recent celebratory centenary event, QANTAS Group CEO Alan Joyce said Australia’s national carrier was “probably best known for its safety record, endurance flying and long list of aviation firsts”.

Much very true, but I wonder whether he was also referring to QANTAS being first in shutting down all international services?

He added, “But for Australians, there’s nothing quite like seeing the flying kangaroo at the airport, waiting to take you home,” he remarked. “We hope to be doing a lot more of that in the months and years ahead.”

I wonder how that went down with the tens of thousands of Australians still waiting in countries all over the world to come home, but they cannot, partly because of QANTAS’ decision.

By the way for what appears to be a rather distorted view by QANTAS CEO Alan Joyce read this article CLICK HERE, which gives the impression that QANTAS is providing the repatriation flights when they are not, with the passengers having to pay QANTAS and the seats very expensive, and Joyce also saying the crew volunteered and they did, that is they volunteered for particular flights but were paid as usual!

Please come back QANTAS, the great airline we used to know and love.

A report and opinion by John Alwyn-Jones

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