Qantas is celebrating its 100th anniversary today.

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.

The Covid-19 pandemic meant celebrations have been “significantly scaled back”, although the carrier is commemorating the occasion with a low-level flyover of Sydney Harbour.

Qantas is considered to be the third oldest airline after KLM and Avianca (although British Airways might disagree).

The carrier was initially formed to carry mail between outback town, 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 flies London to Sydney nonstop

Commenting on the anniversary Qantas CEO Alan Joyce said:

“Distance has always defined Australia. Between our cities and regional towns, and from the rest of the world. Qantas prided itself on closing that gap. Before Covid interrupted, we were working on non-stop flights from the east coast to New York and London – the last frontier of global aviation.

“For most of this year, it’s the distance between Melbourne and Sydney (or any of our capitals) that has been the challenge. Hard state borders for the first time in, coincidently enough, about 100 years.

“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.”