Impulse Airlines was established in 1992 and started operations on December 18, 1992. It commenced regional airline services in March 1994 following the acquisition by the Impulse Transportation Group of Port Macquarie based Oxley Airlines. Impulse Airlines was based in Newcastle. The Airline's Managing Director was Gerry McGowan until the McGowan family sold the airline to Qantas in 2001. The airline operated a network of regional routes throughout New South Wales and Queensland. The network included routes to Armidale, Barcaldine, Biloela, Blackwater, Brisbane, Canberra, Coffs Harbour, Coolangatta, Cooma, Grsafton, Glen Innes, Hervey Bay, Kempsey, Maroochydore, Maryborough, Melbourne, Newcastle, Port Macquarie, Roma, Sydney, Tamworth and Taree. The airline operated a fleet of Beechcraft 1900 aircraft. It was affiliated with the Ansett frequent flyer programme and its flights had designated Ansett flight numbers.
In June 2000 the airline acquired Boeing 717 jet aircraft and commenced operations as a low-cost airline on Australia's trunk eastern seaboard routes in direct competition with Qantas and Ansett. The airline had ceased its previous affiliation with Ansett. Services initially operated between Sydney and Melbourne and quickly expanded to include Brisbane, Newcastle and Hobart. Together with Virgin Blue which also commenced services in mid-2000, Impulse Airlines brought upon a substantial restructuring of the Australian airline industry. The new low-cost entrants injected competition into the long-lived duopoly between Qantas and Ansett, arguably contributing to the downfall of the latter. The airline gradually began to phase in a catchy blue livery with a cockatoo on the tail of its aircraft.
In April 2001 Impulse and Qantas came to an agreement where Impulse would wet lease all their services to Qantas with Qantas to market the routes and give Impulse a cash injection with a further option for Qantas to buy out the company. Qantas exercised that option in November 2001, and Impulse was absorbed into the QantasLink group of subsidiary airlines. The introduction of the cockatoo livery did not progress beyond a few aircraft. Both the Boeing 717 and Beech 1900 aircraft were initially utilised in the QantasLink fleet however the Beech 1900s were soon withdrawn from service while the Boeing 717 fleet was expanded.
It was operated as 'QantasLink' from May 27, 2001 to May 24, 2004. Meantime the Boeing 717 fleet had been increased to a total of 14 aircraft, all of which were passed to Jetstar on May 25, 2004.