Alex Jacquot, a 10-year old school kid, calls himself the CEO and co-founder of Australia’s newest start-up airline, Oceania Express. A few weeks back, Alex Jacquot wrote a candid letter to Qantas CEO, Alan Joyce seeking his guidance. Alan Joyce actually replied to the kid and committed to making a meeting.
It wasn’t just pfaffing, but the meeting did actually go through last week. Like any formal meeting, both the sides had their own entourage. Oceania Express was represented by Alex Jacquot, his 10-year-old deputy CEO Wolf Stringer and 7-year-old Head of Inflight Service, Mila Jacquot. On the opposite side were Alan Joyce, Olivia Wirth (CEO, Qantas Loyalty) and John Gissing (CEO, QantasLink).Embed from Getty Images
The meeting was organised at Qantas’ Headquarters in Sydney. The day began with a tour of the operations centre followed by a visit to Hanger where a Qantas A380 was parked. The Oceania Express team took notes and interacted with engineers and executives.Embed from Getty Images
Then it was time for things to get serious. A 30-minute meeting followed where the six executives brainstormed various ideas. Aircraft types, in-flight catering, the importance of a frequent flyer program and Project Sunrise were a few things that were discussed.Embed from Getty Images
What actually stole the show was that Qantas provided Alex with a new logo, business cards and artist impression of the Oceania Express brand on a Boeing 787 illustration. The domain name oceaniaexpress.com.au was also registered on Alex’s behalf. As a part of the agreement, a memorandum of understanding was signed for both the airlines to cooperate from 2026, once Alex has completed high school. It can be extended if Alex decides to join a college.
Post the meeting, Oceania Express CEO Alex Jacquot said,
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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 inflight entertainment for kids but I think we can beat it.
Following this, Qantas launched the ‘Qantas Future High Flyers’ program. This will offer a select number of school children the opportunity to experience a day at Qantas Headquarters in Sydney and will meet engineers, pilots and head office staff. They can also share their thoughts on how the customer experience can be improved. How cool!! Wish we had this in our school days in India.
Remember the 10-year-old CEO who started his own airline?
We said we’d host him and his fellow executives at Qantas for a historic aviation summit.
And we weren’t joking. pic.twitter.com/v2Bf4JFrXK
— Qantas (@Qantas) March 28, 2019
According to Alan Joyce,
There are clearly a lot of budding airline executives out there, probably because it’s an industry that really captures the imagination. 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.
Qantas actually did a wonderful thing by launching this program. Programs like these help kids who are already curious to know more about how an airline works. Wish more airlines especially airlines in India launch such programs at least for school kids. [Editor’s note: All the best with the Airport Passes for these kids!]
Now let’s wait till 2026 to see what plans does Oceania Express have.
What do you think about the way Qantas played this?