Remember 10-year old airline fanatic Alex Jacquot who wrote to the chief executive of Qantas asking for some business advice after he decided to start his own airline that he called Oceania Express during the school holidays? Well, Alan Joyce has made good on his word to host the young airline executive, along with 10-year-old Deputy CEO Wolf Stringer and 7-year-old Head of Inflight Service, Mila Jacquot.
Despite being warned by his legal team not to offer advice to a competitor, Joyce sat down with the youngsters alongside Qantas Group executives Olivia Wirth who heads the money-spinning loyalty division and John Gissing, the chief executive of QantasLink at the airline’s head office in Mascot, Sydney.
And it appears the meeting went very well – Qantas even released a statement saying it would “form a partnership with fledgeling local carrier Oceania Express.” Nice work Alex!
Alan Joyce said of the deal: “Today we signed a memorandum of understanding for our airlines to cooperate from 2026, once Alex has completed high school” – the only snag is that the deal might have to be delayed if the budding entrepreneurs decide to go to university. Oh, and of course, the whole thing is subject to regulatory approval.
“In his letter, Alex asked me to take him seriously. So we did. It’s hard not to be impressed by his enthusiasm,” explained Joyce. “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.”
As part of the business deal, Qantas created a new logo for Oceania Express and presented its senior leadership team with business cards and artist impression of the Oceania Express brand on a Boeing 787 Dreamliner. The fledgling airline’s online presence has also been protected with the domain name oceaniaexpress.com.au registered by Qantas on Alex’s behalf.
After a 30-minute formal business meeting, the executives from both airlines discussed in-flight catering, loyalty programme’s and of course, Project Sunrise which is Qantas’ strategy to push ultra-long-haul flights.
“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 told us.
The budding airline executives then received a tour of the Qantas Integrated Operations Centre, some of the airline’s engineering facilities and an Airbus A380.
Qantas has actually received lots more letters from children with a passion for aviation after they heard Alex’s story. So the airline has decided to start a Qantas Future High Flyers’ program. A select number of children will be invited to spend a day at the airline’s head office where they’ll get to 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 open to children aged between 7-12 who can apply by visiting the Qantas Future High Flyers webpage and explaining in 50 words or less why they would like to spend a day at Qantas.