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Qantas Livery Through Time

by Matt Falcus

QANTAS is the national carrier of Australia, and it is one of the world’s oldest airlines. It was founded in 1920 and has been flying since March 1921, which makes it over a hundred years old.

Founded in Winton, Queensland as Queensland and Northern Territory Aerial Services Limited, this was quickly shortened to the acronym QANTAS that we know today.

Photo (c) Qantas

The airline later had bases at Longreach (where the Qantas Founders Museum is located today) and Brisbane. Today its headquarters are at Mascot, New South Wales, next to Sydney International Airport.

Through the years Qantas has had many identities. It has always been famous for its long-distance links to the United Kingdom, as well as its domestic and Pacific networks.

Perhaps the most easily identifiable aspect of Qantas is its flying kangaroo logo which has adorned the tails of its aircraft since the 1950s.



Qantas entered the jet age in the late 1950s when the first Boeing 707-138s arrived. Since then it has operated a wide-ranging fleet, becoming famous for its association with the Boeing 747. One famous Qantas Boeing 707 is N707JT, owned by the actor John Travolta. It flies in the 1970s V-Jet livery. It will soon be preserved in Australia.

Boeing 707-138 N707JT

The last 747 one was retired last year, but now Qantas is forging ahead with cutting edge, state-of-the-art airliners like the Boeing 787 in covering long-distances non-stop, such as Perth to London.

It is to operate the Airbus A350-1000 for its future ultra long-haul expansion.

The airline also operates the Airbus A380 Superjumbo, and has a domestic and regional fleet including Airbus A330 and Boeing 737-800 types.

VH-EBD QF A332 16L YSSY-1719

The present Qantas livery has existed since the 1980s, with an update in the font and titling in the 2000s to modernise the scheme.


Qantas Link

QantasLink is the regional subsidiary of the airline, with flights operated by Airbus A320, Boeing 717, Bombardier Dash 8, Embraer 190 and Fokker 100 types.

Its livery is much the same as that of the mainline Qantas, with different titles.


Qantas Special Liveries

Classic special liveries worn by Qantas’ Boeing 747-300 fleet.

Qantas has always sought to forge links with the aboriginal communities and history of Australia. As a result, since the 1990s it has been painting special colour schemes on various aircraft that depict aboriginal art.

The most famous of these were on the Boeing 747-300 and -400 fleet in the 1990s and 2000s.


VH-ZND at Alice Spings. Photo (c) Qantas

Today it continues to paint its modern fleet in special aboriginal schemes, including the Boeing 737-800s and 787 Dreamliners.

Robert Frola (GFDL <http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html> or GFDL <http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html>), via Wikimedia Commons

YSSYguy at English Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

One 787, VH-ZNJ, presently wears a 100th Anniversary special livery, too.


Qantas Retro Livery

Damien Aiello, CC BY-SA 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

Bidgee, CC BY-SA 3.0 AU <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/au/deed.en>, via Wikimedia Commons

Two Boeing 737-800s wear retro Qantas liveries, depicting former schemes. Known as the Retro Roos, they are VH-XZP and VH-VXQ.


Qantas Freight

VH-ULD QF A321F 16 YMML-1341

Another division of Qantas is its freight operation. This operates a wide-ranging fleet including BAe 146, Boeing 737-300, -400, 767-300 and the latest Airbus A321-200P2F (passenger-to-freighter) aircraft.

The livery is much the same as the main carrier, with Freight titles, and Australia Post titles in some cases.


Which is your favourite Qantas livery? There have been so many over the years, from the standard schemes to the special artwork liveries. Leave a comment below!




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