Many Australians fell out of love for Qantas when new suitors arrived on the scene

Qantas has pulled back on international routes.
Qantas has pulled back on international routes. Photo: AP

From the moment it started flying in 1920, Qantas was uniquely Australian, the name of one state and territory inscribed into its own. In times of crisis, from civil unrest to tsunamis, the national carrier has stepped up and provided special flights and assistance.

It even carried stranded Ansett passengers for free when that airline ceased operation in 2002.

With that community spirit, a home-turf advantage and an impeccable safety record, it was never a difficult task for Qantas to win over Australians. But in recent years, it has not had so much love.

Grounding the entire fleet during an industrial dispute in 2011 may not have helped. But the open-skies policy, especially to London, has also awakened Australians to alternative airlines such as Emirates, Etihad and China Southern.

Qantas has also pulled back on routes.

"For years there were rusted-on 'Red Roo' supporters who would fly only Qantas," says Australian aviation commentator David Flynn.

"It was almost like they would book on muscle memory, but Australians have become more travel savvy and have started examining the alternatives."

Entrepreneur Dick Smith says we have abandoned Qantas for cheap tickets, but that he sticks with the airline even if it costs him 20 per cent more.

Despite everything, Qantas still ticks a lot of boxes. It is difficult to beat the friendly and casual Aussie approach. The economy meals are good and its premium economy is rated highly for its legroom and seat width.

The frequent flyer scheme is another plus and its airport lounges are among the best.

Qantas is doing a lot right, but we'll have to wait and see whether it remains the darling of Australians.

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