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Kangaroo route celebrates 60 years

Plane taking off

Qantas is celebrating 60 years of flights from Australia to the UK on the Kangaroo route.

The first scheduled Qantas flight from Sydney to London left on 1 December 1947 and took a total of 93 hours to arrive at its destination, including 55 hours in the air. This included stops at Darwin, Singapore, Calcutta, Karachi, Cairo and Tripoli.

The first planes, Lockheed Constellations, carried 29 passengers and 11 crew, as well as mail. The first flight also carried over 2000 lbs of food parcels to help with the food shortages in post-war Britain.

"The Kangaroo route helped seal Qantas' reputation as a leader in long distance international air travel," says chief executive officer of Qantas, Geoff Dixon. "That first flight in 1947 was a momentous step in Australian aviation and literally brought Australia closer to the rest of the world."

The introduction of jet aircraft has cut the journey time from Sydney to London to only 23 hours with one stop, and that time will reduce still further with the introduction of the new breed of superjets.

"While technology has brought significant developments to the Kangaroo route over 60 years, one of the biggest changes has been the cost of travel," says Dixon. A return flight in 1947 cost £585, almost the same as a typical suburban home, which then cost around £600. The average weekly wage for Australians then was £7, so it would have taken almost one and a half years wages to pay for the flight.

Qantas now operates four return services a day to London, and around 20 airlines operate services between Australia and the UK including British Airways, Emirates, United Airlines and Singapore Airlines.

Written by: Nick Purdom