A Subdued 100th Birthday Celebrated By Australia’s Qantas

The third oldest airlines of the world, Australia’s Qantas Airways Ltd, completed its 100th birthday on Monday amidst one of the toughest year in aviation history because of the novel coronavirus pandemic. However the company’s chief executive said that the company is looking to the future with optimism.

“Qantas every decade has literally reinvented itself,” Chief Executive Alan Joyce said in a recorded message. “That is why it has survived as long as it has.”

Founded as Queensland and Northern Territory Aerial Services Ltd (Qantas) in 1920, in Australia’s outback, the airline is the third oldest operating carrier in the world – behind the Dutch airline KLM and Colombia’s Avianca Holdings, in terms of age.

The centenary celebrations of the company include a planned 100-minute low level flyover of Sydney’s famous harbour at sunset on Monday evening for 100 employees as well as frequent flyers.

The financial position of the company was quite string at the beginning of the year and it was expecting to [place orders for up to 12 Airbus A350 jets for its various routes including the longest ever non-stop flights of the world – between Sydney and London.

But then the pandemic hit the world and air travel virtually stopped for months at end. Consequently the company has been forced to announce job cuts for of up to 30 per cent of its workforce as well as grounding the majority of its aircrafts.

And since Australia’s borders have remained largely closed, the company does not expect to restart most of its international routes until the second half of 2021.

But with state borders within Australia reopening, the domestic market outlook for the company is relatively brighter. The airline now expects that it will be able to return back to about 50 per cent of its pre pandemic capacity by Christmas.

The plans of the airline of flying non-stop from Sydney London are still quite strong, Joyce said and he was optimistic that the flight route will be back on the the table as the company’s financial position gets better.

“We think the business case for that is going to be even better in a post-COVID world,” he said.

Qantas also boasts of holding one of the best safety records in the global aviation industry and the company was highlighted in the 1988 film Rain Man in which an autistic character played by Dustin Hoffman says “Qantas never crashed”.

However, since the airline had met with some accidents in its earlier years, that statement is not entirely accurate. However there has been no fatal crash at the airlines since 1951 which was prior to the company flying jet planes.

(Adapted from Reuters.com)

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