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Qantas Celebrates 100 Years Of Service

Izzat Haziq

Looking back at a centenary of serving Australia.

Australia’s flag carrier, Qantas Airways, celebrated their 100 years anniversary on 16 November, marking a centenary of serving the nation since it was founded in the Australian outback.

It all began on a fateful day, 16 November 1920, when two veterans of the Australian Flying Corps, Hudson Fysh and Paul McGinness, together with local grazier Fergus McMaster, founded what would later become the national carrier: Queensland and Northern Territory Aerial Services - abbreviated to become Qantas Airways.

Original QANTAS office in Queensland
The original QANTAS office in Longreach, Queensland, circa 1921. (Photo: Sir Hudson Fysh/State Library of New South Wales)

Many were sceptical of the airline’s success during its inception, to the point that early backers would simply regard their investment “a donation”. The then-new airline had its eyes set on conquering the “tyranny of distance” that proved to be a major obstacle to the growth of modern Australia. Now, Qantas is considered either the oldest or second oldest continuously-operating airline in the world and the only one that services routes to every single inhabited continent on Earth.

Originally, much of the airline’s services dealt with carrying mail between rural outback towns. However, by the 1930s, the airline began to spread its wings by flying passengers to Singapore. Soon enough, its strategic importance saw it nationalised by the end of the 1940s. By the 1960s, the airline grew into an early adopter of the jet aircraft that mainstreamed global travel.

Qantas’ current headquarters in Mascot, Sydney. (Photo: MDRX/Creative Commons)

"Around the world, Qantas is probably best known for its safety record, endurance flying and long list of aviation firsts. But for Australians, there's nothing quite like seeing the flying kangaroo at the airport, waiting to take you home, " the airline's CEO, Alan Joyce, said in a press statement.

Qantas is perhaps widely regarded as the pioneer for introducing business class in flights back in the 1970s. The airline also witnessed several transformations throughout the years, such as switching to an all-747 fleet in the 1980s, undergoing privatisation in the 1990s, founded Jetstar in 2004, went through major restructuring in 2014 and, by 2020, had recently completed several important ‘firsts’ in non-stop travel to Europe and the US.

While centenary celebrations have been significantly scaled back due to the pandemic, Qantas still marked the proud occasion with a low-level flyover of Sydney Harbour on the evening of its anniversary.

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