Qantas chief strikes deal with 10-year-old CEO of fledgling airline

The two CEOs at the fruitful airline discussion

Qantas has partnered with fledgling local carrier Oceania Express, as well as started a behind-the-scenes programme for budding airline executives, after a meeting between the two airline bosses in Sydney.

This follows 10-year-old Alex Jacquot’s – Oceania Express’ self-appointed CEO – letter to Qantas Group’s CEO Alan Joyce asking for advice on how to run an airline he founded during his school holidays.

The two CEOs at the fruitful airline discussion

Joyce hosted the meeting at the national carrier’s headquarters, and 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 seven-year-old head of in-flight service, Mila Jacquot.

As part of the agreement, Jacquot 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 has also been registered on Jacquot’s behalf. Jacquot and his co-founders also received a tour of the Qantas Integrated Operations Centre, engineering facilities and one of its Airbus A380.

During the 30-minute meeting, the six airline executives discussed aircraft types, in-flight catering and the importance of a frequent flyer programme. Improving passenger comfort on ultra longhaul flights was a focus, particularly given Qantas’ plans to fly direct from the east coast of Australia to London and New York by 2022.

Speaking after the meeting, Joyce said: “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.

“We wanted to capture all that enthusiasm and formalise a connection between Australia’s oldest and newest airlines. Today we signed a MoU 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.”

Jacquot added: “This is a big day for our little airline. 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 in-flight 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, driving the inauguration of the Qantas Future High Flyers programme.

The programme, set to be timed with school holidays later this year, will offer a select number of school children the opportunity to experience a day in the life at the Flying Kangaroo in Sydney. Young aviators will meet with engineers, pilots and head office staff, as well as share their thoughts on how the customer experience can be improved.

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