After 16 days of competition, Australia’s Olympic athletes will soon begin the long journey home from Rio de Janeiro on a Qantas Boeing 747-400ER decked out in special livery.
The aircraft to bring the team back to Australia, VH-OEJ, left Sydney on Saturday morning operating QF73 bound for San Francisco. The aircraft features a Boxing Kangaroo decal on the fuselage, as well as a medal draped around the neck of the Flying Kangaroo carrying an Australian flag on the tail.
From there, VH-OEJ was expected to be ferried to Rio de Janeiro to pick up members of the Olympic team, with the return flight to Australia due to depart on Monday (local time).
The athletes were scheduled to arrive in Sydney early on Wednesday morning, with a welcome home reception to take place at Qantas’s Mascot base.
Australia finished 10th on the medal tally at the Rio Olympics with eight gold, 11 silver and 10 bronze medals. The United States topped the list with 46 gold, 37 silver and 38 bronze.
It was understood gold medallists would be given priority for the 747’s 58 business class seats located in the nose section of the aircraft and on the upper deck, followed by those who won silver and bronze medals at the Games.
In addition to the 58 business class seats, VH-OEJ is also configured with 36 premium economy seats and 270 economy seats.
Other ways Qantas has thrown its support behind the Australian Olympic and Paralympic team has been the special green and gold pyjamas it has offered to passengers in business class on selected routes since July 22.
The souvenir pyjamas, which are available on flights to Santiago, Dubai, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Honolulu, Dallas, Tokyo, Johannesburg and Vancouver would continue until September 18.