Today marks Qantas’ centenary, starting from a bush airline in outback Queensland to an international powerhouse today. Sadly, the airline’s 100th birthday celebrations have been muted by the global Coronavirus pandemic, its largest aircraft, the Airbus A380, gathering dust in the Californian desert, its most iconic aircraft, the Boeing 747, finally retired this year. So many staff, from those at the frontline and the back office to their most senior pilots have lost their jobs and their dreams.
Qantas labels itself as The Spirit of Australia, and indeed it is a national icon. So many of my best memories have involved a flight on the Flying Kangaroo.
Our honeymoon flights to London, our first trips to New Zealand and Japan. Trips to see family in Queensland and colleagues in Canberra. The celebrations of the Disney Planes movie premier aboard a Qantas 767. Our one and only proper business class flight to Shanghai. Flights alone and with family. My last flight, a domestic leg back from Brisbane after an overnight flight from Singapore.
Whenever I climb aboard a Qantas aircraft there is a sense of familiarity, a sense that this is home territory. Somehow the Qantas flights always seemed to go faster.
I haven’t had any flights myself this year, though I was sorely tempted to book some return flights today. The air is hot, the winds are dry and the sky is pewter with high cloud. When I stepped out this morning the first thing I saw was a Qantas A333 silently gliding past on descent into Sydney Airport from Shanghai. It’s the kind of scene, the kind of day, that makes me dream of distant journeys.
I look forward to days like that again. So happy birthday Qantas and may the next 100 years be even better than the first!