Alex Jacquot may be only 10, but the would-be Australian airline mogul has already learned one of the most important lessons in business: When in doubt, ask for advice.
The Sydney schoolboy has big plans for the airline he’s dubbed “Oceania Express." He’s assembling a fleet, assigning flight numbers and making major staffing decisions (including tapping his buddy Wolf to be his “vice-CEO”). But rather than let his lack of industry experience slow him down, Jacquot penned a letter to Alan Joyce, chief executive of Qantas, the oldest airline in Australia, asking for guidance on how to get things off the ground.
Like any shrewd entrepreneur, Jacquot kept it short and sweet and made it clear he meant business.
“Please take me seriously," he wrote in the first line of his letter.
One of Jacquot’s main concerns was how he could maximize his productivity.
“I like working on my airline. Seeing as it is the school holidays, I have more time to work. But I don’t have anything to do that I can think of,” he wrote. “Do you have any ideas of what I could do?”
The boy has his sights set on a major route — nonstop service from Sydney to London — and he knows that passenger comfort will be key to Oceania Express’ success.
“Seeing as it is a 25-hour flight, we are having a lot of trouble thinking about sleep,” Jacquot wrote. “Do you have any advice?”
Game recognizes game. In late February, Joyce wrote back, answering the boy’s questions after noting he’d heard rumors of “another entrant” in the Australian airline market.
“I’m not typically in the business of giving advice to my competitors. Your newly-appointed Head of Legal might have something to say about that too,” Joyce wrote. “But I’m going to make an exception on this occasion because I too was once a young boy who was so curious about flight and all its possibilities.”
Joyce urged Jacquot to prioritize safety and affordability. But when it came to the issue of a comfortable Australia to London flight, Joyce acknowledged that Qantas had wrestled with the same concerns as it looked to mount a parallel service, called “Project Sunrise.” He suggested they tackle the question together.
“We want to think up as many ideas as possible to make the journey more comfortable for all,” Joyce wrote. “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."
Joyce also offered the 10-year-old a tour of Qantas’ operations center. Qantas tweeted a scan of Jacquot’s original, pencil-scrawled letter and Joyce’s typed one on Sunday, and it’s since gone viral. Many praised Joyce for his gracious response; others noted that Qantas had shrewdly seized a chance for free marketing.
Alex’s mother told the Australian that a date has not yet been set for the hotly anticipated meeting between the two titans of industry.