For any child, the idea of flight is a fascinating one. It can even inspire some to pursue a career in aviation — and it seems that one 10-year-old schoolboy may have already got a head start on his dream job.
After budding entrepreneur Alex Jacquot's handwritten letter to Australia's oldest airline recently garnered attention on a global scale — having prompted a response and meet-and-greet from the carrier's CEO — it seems that Jacquot's enthusiasm has gone onto inspire other kids to voice their love for aviation.
After receiving "scores of notes" from children who want to pursue a career in aviation, Qantas announced Thursday that it would launch its own "Future High Flyers" program.
The initiative looks to offer budding airline executives and aviators, between the ages of 7 and 12, a behind-the-scenes opportunity at exploring the inner workings of what it takes to run one of Australia's largest carriers.
"There are clearly a lot of budding airline executives out there, probably because it's an industry that really captures the imagination," said Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce in a statement, adding that he had no doubt that some of them would end up working at the airline in the future.
The announcement comes as the chief executive met with Alex Jacquot, the 10-year-old CEO of prospective airline "Oceania Express"; who previously penned a letter to Joyce asking for advice on how to run a passenger carrier. The letter, tweeted out by Qantas earlier this month, received over 29,000 retweets.
Joyce responded to Jacquot in February — after the budding entrepreneur asked Joyce to take his advice request seriously — adding that Qantas wanted to set up a CEO-to-CEO exchange to discuss Jacquot's aviation questions further.
On Thursday, Qantas revealed that the "much-anticipated" meeting between executives of both airlines had taken place, with topics such as aircraft types, in-flight catering and long-haul flights having been discussed.
"In his letter, Alex asked me to take him seriously. So we did," said Joyce, adding that it's "hard not to be impressed by his enthusiasm. The aviation industry needs people who think big and Alex has that in spades."
With a desire to build upon this relationship between the two Australian carriers, Qantas announced that it had signed a memorandum of understanding, for both airlines to cooperate from 2026, which is when Jacquot would finish high school — subject to regulatory approval, of course. Joyce added that the date may be pushed back, if Jacquot chose to attend university.
Alongside the meeting, Jacquot and his Oceania Express colleagues received a tour of Qantas' integrated operations center, its engineering facilities and one of the Airbus A380 aircrafts. Schoolchildren who are accepted onto the "Qantas Future High Flyers" program will receive a similar day-long experience in the future, where they will be able to meet pilots and engineers, along with sharing their thoughts on advancing customer experience to the company.
To make Jacquot's experience at Qantas' headquarters extra memorable, however, the established airline presented Jacquot and his team with a new logo, business cards and an artist impression of what Oceania Express' branding would look like on a Boeing Dreamliner. A domain name for Oceania Express was also registered on Jacquot's behalf.
"This is a big day for our little airline," Jacquot, CEO and co-founder of Oceania Express stated.
"We've got a lot to learn from them (Qantas), but they can learn from us, too."
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