MIAMI— Qantas is today showing off its second commemorative historical livery, nicknamed Retro Roo II, on Boeing 737-800 VH-VXQ. Marking the early jet age of Boeing 707 aircraft, with which Qantas truly landed on the international stage, “Australia’s Overseas Airline” debuted the livery on the Boeing 707 in 1959.

Over 55 years later, the simple, elegant red lines of the livery look as good on the little twinjet — which shares both fuselage diameter and nose profile with the 707 — as it did on the four-engined pioneer.

Unusually for a special livery, the Retro Roo II aircraft is not a new delivery — rather, as the Red Roo updated the interiors of one of its 67-strong 737-800 fleet, it turned the outside into Retro Roo II.


Marking the airline’s milestone birthday, Qantas CEO Alan Joyce is clear about what makes up the history of an airline. “None of the past 95 years would have been possible without all those who have worked for Qantas with such commitment and passion. Tens of thousands of people have dedicated their whole careers to the national carrier and many who work here today are the third or fourth generation in their family to do so.”

“As we celebrate our 95th birthday today, I hope this livery inspires a sense of pride in what our national airline has achieved during all those years of taking Australians around the world and bringing them safely home again,” Joyce added.

Qantas unveiled its first Retro Roo aircraft last November on its 94th birthday, fresh from the factory in Seattle. The 737-800, named James Strong after a former Qantas CEO who died in 2013, echoes the iconic 1947 winged kangaroo livery designed by Gert Sellheim.


Commemorative liveries aren’t just #avgeek-pleasing fun, with airlines using the wider appeal of historical aircraft for marketing and PR purposes. Just one example: Retro Roo I has had a busy special occasion calendar in addition to its regular services.


The aircraft was on display at the Avalon Airshow near Melbourne in February, inaugurated Qantas’ return to the Perth-Singapore route in June, and just two weeks ago flew 168 passengers on a charity celebration flight from Sydney to Longreach, early base of the Queensland And Northern Territory Aerial Service. The special flight raised money for the Western Queensland Drought Appeal.

As part of the buzz around the Retro Roo II announcement, Qantas said last month that it was selecting the from one of its twelve historical liveries, leading to some excited speculation — would it be the V-Jet? The Constellation propliner? An earlier livery? All things considered, Qantas has hit the nail on the head with this one.