It’s been a rough year for aviation, but for Qantas there is a sliver of joy to be found in 2020 as the Australian airline celebrates its 100th anniversary this week.
Back on the 16th November 2020,two veterans of the Australian Flying Corps, Hudson Fysh and Paul McGinness, together with local grazier Fergus McMaster, founded what would eventually become Australia’s national carrier.
The airline had planned centenary celebrations but due to the ongoing pandemic these have had to be ‘significantly scaled back’. However, the company couldn’t let the moment pass without a bit of rejoicing, so to mark the occasion it will be hosting a low-level flyover of Sydney Harbour on the evening of its anniversary.
The airline originally started out carrying post between outback towns in Australia, but by the 1930s it was also operating routes to Singapore.
Pre-pandemic, the airline had grown to transport approximately 50 million passengers a year.
Qantas even holds the record for the world’s longest non-stop flight. In 2019 it operated a direct flight between London Heathrow and Sydney which landed after 19 hours and 19 minutes – a flight so long, passengers were treated to two sunrises during the journey.
Other milestone moments in its history have included the introduction of business class in the 1970s and a switch to an all-747 fleet in the 1980s.
The airline claims to be the oldest continuously-operating airline in the world, not to mention it flies to every single inhabited continent on Earth (well, when the pandemic’s travel restrictions aren’t in place).
During the Covid-19 pandemic the airline has still been hosting some flights to quench aviation fans’ thirst for flying.
It recently announced new ‘flights to somewhere’ with champagne breakfast and sightseeing for passengers. Earlier this year, Qantas also offered ‘flight to nowhere’, a seven-hour flight that didn’t land anywhere but did fly by the likes of Queensland, the Great Barrier Reef, Uluru, Kata Tjuta, Byron Bay and Sydney Harbour.
The flight sold out in 10 minutes.
Richard Goyder, Qantas Chairman, said: “The history of Qantas shows it’s no stranger to a challenge or a crisis. That’s often when its role as the national carrier has really come to the fore. We want to use this moment to say thank you to all those who have supported Qantas over the years. And, in particular, to the many people who have dedicated some or all of their careers to this great company.”
You can find out more about the airline’s history on qantas.com/100.