One CEO is helping this little boy get his wings.
When Alex Jacquot, a 10-year-old boy, wrote to Qantas Airways CEO Alan Joyce for advice on operating his "airline," Oceania Express, the more experienced CEO didn’t hesitate to respond.
“I have already started some stuff like what types of planes I’ll need, flight numbers, catering and more,” Jacquot wrote in a handwritten letter.
Jacquot said he’s also gotten his company, Oceania Express, off the ground by naming himself and his co-founder CEOs and hiring a chief financial officer, head of maintenance, head of onboard services and head of legal.
The 10-year-old also asked the rival CEO if he had any idea of what he could for his company during his school vacation and what tips he might have on starting an airline.
“I’m thinking about, as you are, about an A350 for Sydney/Melbourne to London flights,” Jacquot said, alluding to Qantas’ Project Sunrise plan to fly customers non-stop between Australia’s east coast and London. “Seeing as it is a 25-hour flight, we are having a lot of trouble thinking about sleep.”
Although Joyce said he didn't usually give advice to its competitors, he said he responded to Jacquot’s letter because he “too was a young boy who was so curious about flight and all its possibilities.” Joyce sent the letter on Feb. 19.
“My number one tip for starting an airline is to put safety front and center,” Joyce wrote. “And do everything you can to make travel as comfortable and affordable as possible for your passengers.”
Joyce also offered tips on Jacquot’s concerns about sleeping on flights from Australia to London by noting the different designs Qantas is exploring to increase stretching space.
“We want to think up as many ideas as possible to make the journey more comfortable for all,” Joyce continued. “For this reason, I would like to invite you to a Project Sunrise meeting between myself, as the CEO of Australia’s oldest airline, and you, as the CEO of Australia’s newest airline.”
Jacquot told Australian radio station 4bc about how excited he was when the letter arrived in the mail.
“I ripped open the envelope," Jacquot told host Ben Fordham. "I quickly read it and I was so excited I was running around the house for ten minutes.”
In an interview with The Australian, Natasha Jacquot, Alex's mother, said the family wasn't expecting the response, and that they're confirming the meeting dates with Qantas.
The letters, which were posted on Qantas’ Twitter page, immediately went viral. Within 13 hours, the post gained approximately 9,000 retweets and 25,000 likes.
Many users commended the Qantas CEO for using his position to encourage a young boy’s dreams.
“Corporate Australia taking our young people seriously,” one Twitter user responded. I love it! Investing in the future....Can't wait to book a ticket with Oceania Express.”
While some accused the post of being a publicity stunt, most agreed that the boy’s letter made for a heart-warming story.
“Seeing it posted on social media does make this more of a marketing exercise, but can’t fault it if the end result is inspiring entrepreneurs of any age,” another Twitter user commented. “Well done Qantas.”