Qantas Round-the-World Service - 1958

In the late 1950s, Qantas Empire Airways (QEA) saw a benefit in linking up its profitable services to London, on the one hand, and the USA on the other. Negotiations for traffic rights, led by the Department of Civil Aviation's Director-General (Sir) Donald Anderson, opened in Washington on 15 May 1957. After protracted discussion, QEA was granted rights to operate across the United States, something that no other international airline had at that time. In return, Australia conceded extensive traffic rights to, through and within Australia to the US airline, Pan Am.

QEA determined to operate two 'around-the-world' services, westbound and eastbound, with Melbourne as the nominal terminus. Accordingly, on 20 December 1957 QEA Super Constellation VH-EAO Southern Aurora departed on a proving and goodwill flight.

Scheduled services commenced on 14 January 1958 with the near-simultaneous departure of Super Constellations VH-EAO and VH-EAP Southern Zephyr from Melbourne's Essendon Airport. VH-EAO departed Australia via Sydney, where it picked up a philatelic mail of some 37,847 items, and then via the 'Southern Cross' route across the Pacific to the USA. The two aircraft passed each other en route and VH-EAO returned to Australia via London and the 'Kangaroo Route' through the Middle East and Asia. Stops were made in: Nadi (Fiji); Honolulu; San Francisco; New York; London; Rome; Athens; Bahrein; Karachi; New Delhi; Bangkok; Singapore; Jakarta; and Perth.

Illustrated here are two varieties of air mail cover flown aboard VH-EAO on this flight. The cover above was issued by QEA whereas the one below was issued by Wesley Cover Service. Both covers carry the required 4 Shillings postage, using two of the special 'Super Constellation' stamps issued by the Post Office to commemorate the event. Both covers also carry a purple flight cachet. The covers were postmarked in Sydney on 14 January and backstamped (not illustrated) on arrival home on 20 January.


(Covers: Phil Vabre collection)

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