Qantas retro livery unveiled on Boeing 737

Qantas hopes to tap into Australian travellers' nostalgia with new retro-livery.

Qantas hopes to tap into Australian travellers' nostalgia for the flying kangaroo and the golden era of travel with new retro-livery on its latest Boeing 737 named after former Qantas CEO James Strong.

To the tune of Elton John's Rocket Man and the whirl of a mirrored disco ball, the '70s-inspired aircraft was unveiled at Boeing Field Seattle. Hollywood actor and Qantas ambassador John Travolta was on hand as Qantas took delivery of the aircraft, which features an ochre band from tip to tail, signifying the airline's outback roots. The iconic winged kangaroo logo on the tail also stars.

"It's great to see a piece of Qantas history flying in the sky today," said Travolta, who played up to the media with a number of disco poses reminiscent of Saturday Night Fever.

Flight attendants in original Qantas uniforms from the 1970s stood by as Qantas  chief financial officer Gareth Evans took delivery of the airline's 75th Boeing 737-800. Speaking at the unveiling, Evans said the '70s were a new era for Qantas, when  long-haul travel became a realistic aspiration for ordinary Australians.

"Millions of Australians experienced overseas travel for the first time on a Qantas aircraft in this iconic design," he said. "It will undoubtedly trigger feelings of nostalgia, but we hope it will lead to a new generation of Australians to seek out Qantas' history."

Qantas group executive for brand, marketing and corporate affairs, Olivia Wirth, said Australians feel very passionate about their national carrier, and hoped the new livery would restore brand loyalty as the airline returns to profitability.

"Qantas holds a special place in the Australian psyche, and we know this will bring back fond memories for Aussies that have flown with us for many years," she said. 

Wirth said the retro livery is a celebration not only of the famous logo and the airline's proud heritage but a reminder of the pioneering role that Qantas has held in the global aviation market.

"For 70 years our logo has been a symbol of aviation innovation, but also a reminder that home is never far away. It's a bit of a time warp having a 1970s livery on one of our brand-new B737 aircraft but it's the perfect way to highlight the years of experience behind the contemporary airline Qantas is today," she said.

The retro aircraft will take its place in the Qantas domestic fleet and fly across all Qantas domestic routes from November 20. Qantas is one of several airlines, including Lufthansa and Finnair, to revisit the past with retro-themed aircraft. Wirth said travellers could also purchase from its retro collection of cabin bags, toiletry bags, luggage tags and passport holders. 

The writer travelled to Seattle courtesy of Qantas and Boeing.

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