Aviation

Qantas CEO signs cooperation agreement with 10-year-old’s airline

Christian Fleetwood

Christian Fleetwood

Qantas has announced its partnership with fledgling airline Oceania Express, following a meeting with its 10-year-old founder and CEO.

Earlier this month, Alex Jacquot sent a heart-warming letter directly to Qantas CEO Alan Joyce asking for some tips to start his own airline.

“Please take me seriously,” Jacquot wrote.

“I have already started some stuff like what type of planes I’ll need, flight numbers, catering and more.”

Jacquot also went on to say that he had already appointed a chief financial officer, a head of IT, a head of maintenance, a head of onboard services, and a head of legal, “as well as my friend Wolf” as vice-CEO.

Joyce wrote back personally to say he would be pleased to discuss further in person, in an exchange that has since captured attention globally.

Following the letter, the Qantas CEO and Jacquot sat down for their anticipated executive summit, hosted at Qantas’ headquarters in Sydney.

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Joyce, who became Qantas Group CEO the same month Jacquot was born, was joined by Qantas Group executives Olivia Wirth (CEO, Qantas Loyalty) and John Gissing (CEO, QantasLink) plus Oceania Express’ 10-year-old deputy CEO  Wolf Stringer  and seven-year-old head of inflight service Mila Jacquot.

“In his letter, Alex asked me to take him seriously. So we did. It’s hard not to be impressed by his enthusiasm. The aviation industry needs people who think big and Alex has that in spades. It was a pleasure meeting with him and his co-founders,” Joyce said.

“We wanted to capture all that enthusiasm and formalise a connection between Australia’s oldest and newest airlines. Today we signed a memorandum of understanding for our airlines to cooperate from 2026*, once Alex has completed high school. It might be pushed out a bit if he chooses to go to university, which I hope he does.”

As part of the agreement, Jacquot was presented with a new logo, business cards and an artist impression of the Oceania Express brand on a state-of-the-art Boeing Dreamliner.

The domain name oceaniaexpress.com.au has also been registered on Jacquot ’s behalf. He and his co-founders also received a tour of the Qantas Integrated Operations Centre, engineering facilities and one of its Airbus A380.

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“This is a big day for our little airline,” Jacquot said.

“We’ve got a lot to learn from them, but they can learn from us, too. We’ve got some ideas about how to make long flights less boring. I like the Qantas inflight entertainment for kids, but I think we can beat it.”

Since the exchange of letters between the two CEOs, Qantas has received scores of notes from other children with a strong passion for aviation.

“There are clearly a lot of budding airline executives out there, probably because it’s an industry that really captures the imagination,” Joyce said.

“When we thought about the right way to respond to these letters, we decided to start a program that gives the biggest enthusiasts the chance to come and see behind the scenes at Qantas. I have no doubt some will wind up working at Qantas one day.”

The ‘Qantas Future High Flyers’ program will offer a select number of school children the opportunity to experience a day in the life at “The Flying Kangaroo” in Sydney. The young aviators will meet engineers, pilots and head office staff, as well as share their thoughts on how the customer experience can be improved. The program will be timed with school holidays later in 2019.

Children aged from seven to 12 who would like to apply to be part of the behind-the-scenes visit can click here and write in 50 words or less why they would like to spend the day at Qantas.

*subject to regulatory approval.

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