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Qantas has unveiled a brand new 737-800 aircraft featuring an Indigenous art livery as a flying tribute to the world’s oldest continuing culture.
It is the fourth aircraft in Qantas’ flying art series in partnership with Australian designers Balarinji that began with the first Indigenous livery “Wunala Dreaming” on a 747 aircraft in 1994. Balarinji’s livery design is inspired by the work of late West Australian Aboriginal painter, Paddy Bedford. His family and Gija elders from the Warmun community travelled to Seattle to witness the delivery of the specially painted aircraft to Qantas.
The livery is an interpretation of the 2005 painting “Medicine Pocket” which captures the essence of Mendoowoorrji, Paddy Bedford’s mother’s country in the East Kimberley region of Western Australia. The aircraft itself has been named Mendoowoorrji in honour of this.
Qantas and Balarinji Design Studio have worked together for over two decades on aircraft livery projects and other design work, including the current Qantas uniform. For this project, Qantas and Balarinji collaborated with the Bedford Trust and the National Gallery of Australia to ensure design of the fuselage stayed true to the original painting.
The Paddy Bedford Estate has gifted “Medicine Pocket” to the collection of the National Gallery of Australia in Canberra, a long time art partner of Qantas. The National Gallery has the largest collection and display of Australian Indigenous art in the world and assisted in an advisory capacity with the selection of the artwork for the livery.
For the first time in the airline’s 93 year history, the iconic Qantas tail has been included in the design, with the airline’s trademark red tail colour behind the white kangaroo altered to match the earthy tones of Paddy Bedford’s art work.
Qantas Chief Executive Officer Alan Joyce said: “As Australia’s national carrier, we will fly this livery with great pride. It not only reflects our rich history as a country, it highlights the opportunities we have to promote our Indigenous culture to the Australian public and our international visitors.”
Newly announced Qantas Ambassador, Indigenous AFL player Adam Goodes, is among the group taking part in the historic delivery of “Mendoowoorrji”.
“I am honoured to be standing alongside this aircraft in all its glory today. It represents our people and our culture and it is only fitting that Qantas as the Spirit of Australia, is using this aircraft to showcase over 60,000 years of Aboriginal art and culture.”
Balarinji’s Managing Director, Ros Moriarty, said: “In our studio’s 30th year, it is a privilege to once again work with Qantas on an iconic Indigenous art aircraft. We applaud Qantas for the leadership in supplier diversity and reconciliation.”
One of the four key focus areas of Qantas’ Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) is a commitment for Qantas to support indigenous-owned enterprises through the development of a more comprehensive supplier diversity program. Qantas is a founding member of Supply Nation and is proud to work with Boeing, which shares the airline’s commercial diversity objectives to engage minority-owned businesses.
Mr Joyce said the new 737-800 aircraft is an example of where companies can successfully engage minority suppliers.
“Qantas is committed to supplier diversity within our own business but we are also urging other businesses both in Australia and overseas to look at minority suppliers, using our successful indigenous procurement contracts as examples of win-win.”
Qantas has minority suppliers across a range of its business functions globally including telecommunications, design and employee training.
The aircraft will fly back to Australia via Fiji with a group of dignitaries on board and will be given a traditional Indigenous welcome to country when it touches down in Sydney on Monday.
“Mendoowoorrji” will fly to Broome and Canberra for promotional visits in coming weeks after it enters service across the Qantas domestic network from mid-November. It will also operate east-west and intra WA flights as part of its regular scheduled services.
This is the 69th B737-800 in the Qantas Group fleet, with six additional aircraft to join between now and the end of 2014. With an average age of 7.9 years, the Qantas fleet is now its lowest since privatisation.