Qantas celebrates its 100th birthday

November 16 2020 marked the beginning of 12 months of exciting celebrations as Qantas gears up for its 100th birthday.

It is a landmark event for one of the few Australian global icons.

November 16 was just the start of 12 months of festivities that will take the company to people in all corners of Australia.

A commemorative $1 coin will be released by the Royal Australian Mint in February 2020. Around five million of these limited-edition gold coins will enter circulation to be used on everyday cash transactions.

An exhibition of fascinating Qantas artefacts and memorabilia will also tour the country in the coming year, with cities and dates to be announced soon.

When a Qantas 787 aircraft flew over the Sydney Harbour Bridge on 16 November 2020, it was more than just an aerial stunt. It was a celebration of the 100th anniversary of the iconic Australian airline founded in the outback on 16 November 1920.

The Australian carrier was launched on November 16, 1920 by Australian Flying Corps veterans Hudson Fysh and Paul McGinness, together with local grazier Fergus McMaster.

It was initially known as Queensland and Northern Territory Aerial Services, from which the abbreviation Qantas was formed.

“We started in outback Queensland carrying mail and a few passengers in the 1920s,” said Qantas Chairman Richard Goyder. “We grew as Australia grew, and we’ve had important support roles during wars, national disasters and celebrations. Our founders talked about overcoming the tyranny of distance and through the years we’ve moved from bi-planes to single wing, to jets to help bring things closer.”

Qantas is considered to be the third oldest airline after KLM and Avianca.

The carrier was initially formed to carry mail between outback towns but by the 1930s was flying passengers to Singapore.

Qantas also claims to have “invented business class in the 1970s”, and more recently completed a series of ‘Project Sunrise’ nonstop flights to the US and Europe.

Qantas CEO Alan Joyce said: “Now, as Australia opens up, we’re ready to fly again. And when people see the familiar kangaroo on the tail, it has another bit of history behind it.”

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