Qantas turns 100: why you should keep your eye on the sky tonight

On Monday evening, a low-level Qantas flyover will take place above Sydney Harbour to celebrate the airline’s 100th anniversary.

Today marks one hundred years since Qantas was founded in the Australian outback on 16 November 1920.

To celebrate the milestone birthday, a Qantas aircraft will fly over Sydney Harbour for 100 minutes, departing at 6:30pm on Monday. Onboard will be 100 Qantas employees as well as selected Frequent Flyer passengers.

Keep an eye out as the plane passe over the HARS Aviation Museum at Albion Park on the NSW South Coast and Rose Bay in Sydney’s east – where Qantas launched its Empire Flying Boats from 1938.

Due to COVID-19, the planned centenary celebrations had to be significantly scaled back. Yet, Qantas was still determined to mark the occasion.

“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,” said Qantas Chairman, Richard Goyder.

Humble beginnings

Qantas (Queensland and Northern Territory Aerial Services) was founded by two veterans of the Australian Flying Corps in 1920.

Hudson Fysh and Paul McGinness, together with local grazier Fergus McMaster, created the new airline with hopes of conquering the “tyranny of distance” that was a major barrier to the growth of modern Australia.

Initially, the airline was used to transport mail between outback towns. By the1930s, Qantas was flying passengers to Singapore and by the 1940s, its strategic importance saw it nationalised.

After being an early adopter of the jet aircraft that mainstreamed global travel, Qantas became a force to be reckoned with internationally. By the 1970s, Qantas also invented business class and earned a reputation for high quality.

Qantas Empire Flying Boat Cooee in 1938. © Qantas

Now, not only is it Australia’s national carrier, but it is the oldest continuously-operating airline in the world.

“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. We hope to be doing a lot more of that in the months and years ahead,” said Alan Joyce, the CEO of Qantas.

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