Qantas, Australia’s national carrier and the oldest continuously operating airline in the world,  today celebrates 100 years of operation at a time described by CEO Alan Joyce as the most challenging in its history due to the impact of COVID-19 on travel.

Queensland and Northern Territory Aerial Services (QANTAS) was founded in outback Queensland on 16 November 1920 (at the tail end of the Spanish Flu, the last global pandemic) by aviators Paul McGinniss and Hudson Fysh (pictured right) and grazier Fergus McMaster.

The airline initially flew mail between outback towns and was flying passengers to Singapore by the 1930s. Other key milestones include:

  • Being nationalised – taken into government ownership – in the late 1940s.
  • Early adopter of jet aircarft in the 1960s
  • Becoming the first carrier to launch business class in the  in the 1970s
  • Switching to an all-747 fleet in the 1980s
  • Privatised after being combined with domestic government carrier Australian Airlines in the 1990s
  • Creating low cost carrier Jetstar in 2004
  • Major union-busting restructure 2014
  • By had completed several important ‘firsts’ in non-stop travel to Europe and the US.

Qantas is only carrier that (normally) flies to every single inhabited continent on earth.

Planned centenary celebrations have been significantly scaled back due to the impact of COVID.

Qantas Chairman, Richard Goyder, 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.”


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