Qantas centenary celebrations take off with ‘double sunrise’ London-Sydney test flight

Qantas group CEO Alan Joyce waves to crowd upon the flight's arrival in Sydney

Qantas, which began its 100th year of operation on Saturday, kicks off its year-long centenary celebrations with the landing of a direct London-Sydney research flight.

Flown by the latest addition to the national carrier’s fleet, a brand-new Boeing 787 Dreamliner landed in Sydney at 12.28 – 19 hours and 19 minutes after leaving Heathrow – and was welcomed by more than 1,000 Qantas employees to mark the flying kangaroo’s 99th birthday.

The service was a re-purposed delivery flight. Rather than flying from Boeing’s factory in Seattle back to Australia empty, the aircraft was positioned in London to simulate one of the Project Sunrise routes under consideration by Qantas.

As part of the celebrations, special livery will be painted on a new Dreamliner that will be seen at airports around the world, featuring every Qantas logo since 1920. The Royal Australian Mint will also be producing five million commemorative one-dollar centenary coins that will enter circulation next year, while a touring Qantas exhibition will visit a number of cities across Australia.

Qantas chairman Richard Goyder said: “Qantas is a national icon because it’s been such a big part of Australian life for so long. We started in outback Queensland carrying mail and a few passengers in the 1920s. We grew as Australia grew, and we’ve had important support roles during wars, national disasters and celebrations. Our founders talked about overcoming the tyranny of distance and through the years, we’ve moved from bi-planes, to single wing, to jets to help bring things closer.”

“Almost a century after our first flight, Qantas and Jetstar carry more than 50 million people around this country and the globe each year,” said Qantas group CEO Alan Joyce.

“A lot of Australians saw the world for the first time on a flying kangaroo. And a lot of migrants started their life in Australia when they first stepped on a Qantas plane. There are so many amazing Qantas stories that also tell the story of modern Australia. We want our centenary to be a celebration of those stories as well as how we’ll be part of taking the spirit of Australia further in the years ahead.”

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