Qld flight marks Qantas, airmail centenary

A century since Qantas winged its way across the Queensland outback with its first paying passenger and a bag of 106 letters on board, Qantas and Australia Post are retracing the historic flight's path.

The first passenger flight between Cloncurry and Charleville took off on November 2, 1922.

Outback pioneer Alexander Kennedy was the first paying passenger, travelling on an 11-pound ticket which, according to a conversion calculation of pounds sterling, would be worth $1300 today.

Qantas and Australia Post recreated the first airmail flight on Tuesday, departing Brisbane airport with descendants from the airline's founding families on board.

The anniversary flight is following the 882-kilometre route originally taken by an open-cockpit FK8 biplane and is carrying another bag of mail in the cargo containing 106 handwritten letters from schoolchildren in Charleville to kids in Longreach and Cloncurry.

The original flight was piloted by Qantas co-founders and pilots Paul McGinness, from Charleville to Longreach, and Hudson Fysh, from Longreach to Cloncurry.

It took just over two days and became a significant milestone for both companies and a defining moment in Australian aviation.

Mr Fysh's grandson Alastair was on board to retrace the flight first taken by his grandfather 100 years ago.

Qantas was the brainchild of Hudson Fysh and World War I flying ace Paul Joseph McGinness.

"They were then in Queensland after the war and going on a Model T Ford from Longreach to Darwin and they said it'd be much easier to fly this - we should start an airline," Mr Fysh said.

"And that's how it started on that long, boring drive ... and went from little biplane to a jet engine."

Hudson Fysh would be the company chairman until 1966 and saw his tiny outback airline grow to become an Australian icon.

Qantas Domestic and International chief executive officer Andrew David said the inaugural flight was a significant milestone.

"One hundred years ago to this very day, Qantas had its first commercial flight from Charleville to Cloncurry - one passenger and 106 letters," he said.

"Today we're carrying 100,000 passengers every day and 1000 tons of freight, so that's been some journey over 100 years."

The flight also marked the day the airline won the national airmail contract from the Postmaster General's Department - today known as Australia Post.

The airline operates 11 dedicated Australia Post freighters and is preparing for a record Christmas period as online retail demand ramps up.

Australia Post chief executive officer and managing director Paul Graham highlighted the importance of the partnership in keeping Australians connected.

"Receiving mail and parcels from loved ones is as important to people today as it was 100 years ago," he said.

"Australia Post is proud to play an essential role in delivering to communities across Australia."