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Australian airline Qantas celebrates its 100th anniversary

(CNN) – Australian airline Qantas will celebrate its 100th anniversary on November 16, rare positive news for an aviation industry hit by the coronavirus pandemic.

The airline began life as Queensland and Northern Territory Aerial Services, abbreviated as QANTAS, on November 16, 1920 – as you may have found out.

The three founders Hudson Fysh, Paul McGinness and Fergus McMaster believed that the air travel business, which was then emerging, could be the way to connect various distant outposts in rural Australia.

The first aircraft was an Avro 504, a pre-World War I biplane that had space for a pilot and a passenger.

Small planes originally delivered mail and cargo between rural outback towns, but the airline evolved along with the country and Qantas (this time in lowercase) became Australia’s national carrier in 1959. The first international flight route was to Singapore in 1935.

The kangaroo livery first appeared in 1944 and has been with the airline throughout the airline’s expansion across the Asia-Pacific region and beyond.

“Qantas is probably best known around the world for its safety record, endurance flight and long list of aviation novelties. For Australians, there is nothing like seeing the flying kangaroo at the airport waiting to take you home “said the CEO of the airline Alan Joyce, said in a press release.

Amid the pandemic, Qantas conducted many of the “relief flights” that brought Australian citizens back from remote corners of the world.

It’s not just the name of Qantas that has changed over the past century. The airline is credited with inventing business class. In a year without Covid, it will be the only airline that flies to all seven continents.

Like many other airlines around the world, Qantas has been hit hard by the drop in travel amid the pandemic. In response, it launched a “flight to nowhere” in which passengers looped across the continent for seven hours, crossing places like the Great Barrier Reef and Uluru.

While big plans for the airline’s 100th anniversary were scaled back due to local virus control practices, Qantas made a scenic flight over Sydney Harbor to celebrate the big day.

CNN’s Angus Watson contributed to the coverage.

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