Qantas has decided to form a partnership with Oceania Express and start a behind-the-scenes program for budding airline executives following a meeting with child entrepreneurs today.
Oceania Express was founded by 10-year-old Alex Jacquot in the school holidays.
Alex made international news after he wrote a letter to Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce asking for advice on how to run an airline. Mr Joyce wrote back to say he would be pleased to discuss further in person. The meeting was held on Thursday at the national carrier’s headquarters in Sydney. Mr Joyce and Alex were joined by Qantas Group executives Olivia Wirth (CEO, Qantas Loyalty) and John Gissing (CEO, QantasLink) plus Oceania Express’s 10-year-old Deputy CEO Wolf Stringer and 7-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,” Mr Joyce said after the meeting.
“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, Alex was presented with a new logo, business cards and 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 Alex’s behalf. Alex and his co-founders also received a tour of the Qantas Integrated Operations Centre, engineering facilities and one of its Airbus A380.
At the 30 minute meeting, the six airline executives discussed aircraft types, in-flight catering and the importance of a Frequent Flyer program. Improving passenger comfort on ultra long-haul flights was a particular focus, particularly given Qantas’ plans to fly direct from the east coast of Australia to London and New York by 2022.
“This is a big day for our little airline,” Oceania Express CEO Alex 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,” Alex said.
Behind the scenes tours for kids
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,” Mr 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 7 to 12 who would like to apply to be part of the behind-the-scenes visit can visit qantasnewsroom.com.au/qantas-future-high-flyers and write in 50 words or less why they’d like to spend the day at Qantas.
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