Qantas’s first “retro” painted aircraft, 737-800 VH-XZP has arrived in Sydney at the end of its delivery flight from Seattle.
The aircraft’s modified retro livery is based on that first introduced on Qantas’s first 747s in 1971, most notably featuring the flying kangaroo on the tail and the ochre cheatline along the passenger windows, and is named after former Qantas CEO, the late James Strong.
After its ferry flight across the Pacific via Honolulu and Nadi the “retro roo” was welcomed to Sydney by an Airservices ARFF fire truck water cannon salute, Qantas past and current staff including CEO Alan Joyce, and James Strong’s wife Jeane-Claude and son Nicholas.
“Seeing this brand new aircraft in a classic livery inspires a real sense of pride in what Qantas and its people have achieved,” Joyce said.
“We are exceptionally proud to name this aircraft after our friend and former CEO James Strong. James was instrumental in the making of the modern Qantas, including the merger with Australian Airlines. James was an exceptional leader and this aircraft represents his love of innovation.”
The aircraft named in Strong’s honour left Seattle with 8 hours 4 minutes and seven cycles in its logbook. The 5hr 30min leg to Honolulu saw it depart Seattle a little after 8am local on Monday morning. After a quick ‘gas and go’ refuelling stop in Honolulu the 737 continued on to Nadi where it arrived 6hr 11min later. After the Nadi overnight VH-XZP departed Nadi at 8am, touching down in Sydney at 1025am.
“It is incredible to think that when this aircraft retires in about 20 years time it will have flown about 40,000 hours and 60,000 cycles,” Qantas technical pilot Capt Alex Passerini said onboard.
“We are lucky to be here at the very beginning.”
Qantas staff and media onboard the delivery flight from Seattle were joined in Nadi by two Qantas staff members who had won a staff competition to travel on the last leg of the delivery flight, and their partners, plus 82 year old John Martin.
Qantas believes Martin is the airline’s biggest fan, and one of its most travelled passengers. Martin has flown 958 flights with Qantas since July 1964, including the first Qantas 747 revenue flight, from Sydney to Melbourne and Singapore in 1971.
“They’re a relative,” Martin said when asked what Qantas means to him.
VH-XZP is due to ferry to Qantas’s Brisbane maintenance base on Wendesday evening ahead of entering scheduled service on Sunday.