Qantas Airways Limited is the flag carrier airline of Australia and its largest airline by fleet size, international flights and international destinations. It is the third oldest in the world, after KLM and Avianca having been founded in November 1920; it began international passenger flights in May 1935. The Qantas name comes from "QANTAS", an acronym for its original name, "Queensland and Northern Territory Aerial Services", and it is nicknamed "The Flying Kangaroo".
The airline is based in the Sydney suburb of Mascot with its main hub at Sydney Airport. Qantas has a 65% share of the Australian domestic market and carries 18.7% of all passengers travelling in and out of Australia. Its subsidiaries QantasLink and Jetconnect provide services within Australia and to New Zealand respectively, flying under the Qantas brand. Qantas also owns the low-cost airline Jetstar, which operates both domestic and international services, and holds stakes in a number of its sister airlines.
Qantas operates a mixed fleet of Airbus and Boeing aircraft. It was the only airline in the world to have a fleet made up solely of Boeing 747s during the 1980s, and in 2008 began to replace the type with the Airbus A380 as part of its fleet renewal.
Qantas is a founding member of the Oneworld airline alliance, together with American Airlines, British Airways, Cathay Pacific and the defunct Canadian Airlines.
Qantas has operated a number of passenger airline subsidiaries since inception including:
- Australia Asia Airlines—operated from 1990 to 1996 to allow Qantas to serve the Taiwanese market
- Impulse Airlines—an established airline bought by Qantas in 2001; ceased operations the same year and its assets used to establish Jetstar Airways
- Australian Airlines—an international budget airline operated from 2001 to 2006
- QantasLink—Qantas' regional airline brand encompassing the operations of two Qantas subsidiary airlines and a contract carrier
- Jetstar Airways—currently operating as Qantas' low-cost carrier
- Network Aviation—an established air charter carrier in Western Australia bought by Qantas in 2011; fulfils fly-in fly-out contracts with mining companies
- Jetconnect — A wholly owned Qantas subsidiary that focuses on trans-Tasman travel between Auckland and Wellington to Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne. Established in 2002, Jetconnect operates a fleet of eight Boeing 737-800s.
Qantas operates a freight service under the name Qantas Freight and also wholly owns the logistics and air freight company Australian air Express.
The 737-800 is a stretched version of the 737-700, and replaces the 737-400. It also filled the gap left by the decision to discontinue the McDonnell Douglas MD-80 and MD-90 following Boeing's merger with McDonnell Douglas. The −800 was launched by Hapag-Lloyd Flug (now TUIfly) in 1994 and entered service in 1998. The 737-800 seats 162 passengers in a two-class layout, or 189 in one class, and competes with the A320. For many airlines in the U.S., the 737-800 replaced aging Boeing 727-200 trijets.
The 737-800 is also among the models replacing the McDonnell Douglas MD-80 series aircraft in airline service; it burns 850 US gallons (3,200 L) of jet fuel per hour, or about 80 percent of the fuel needed by an MD-80 on a comparable flight, even while carrying more passengers than the latter. According to the Airline Monitor, an industry publication, a 737-800 burns 4.88 US gallons (18.5 L) of fuel per seat per hour. Alaska Airlines replaced the MD-80 with the 737-800, saving $2,000 per flight, assuming jet fuel prices of $4 per gallon. The fuel cost of each such flight (2008 prices) on a 737-800 is about $8,500.
On August 14, 2008, American Airlines announced 26 orders for the 737-800 (20 are exercised options from previously signed contracts and six are new incremental orders) as well as accelerated deliveries. A total of 2,135 -800, and 16 -800 BBJ aircraft have been delivered with 1,521 unfilled orders as of January 2011. Ryanair, an Irish low-cost airline is among the largest operators of the Boeing 737-800, with a fleet of over 300 aircraft serving routes across Europe and North Africa.