Last updated: 04:30 PM ET, Mon April 11 2016

Qantas and Tesla Launch New Partnership with Car Versus Plane Race

Airlines & Airports | Josh Lew | April 11, 2016

Qantas and Tesla Launch New Partnership with Car Versus Plane Race

Earlier this month, there was a very unique race at an airfield in Australia. A sports car and a passenger jet both tried to reach their top speed as they traveled down the two-mile-long runway at Avalon Airport, near Melbourne. 

This sounds like some sort of publicity stunt, but it was actually more than that. The plane, a Boeing 737-800 owned by Qantas, and the car, a battery-powered Tesla Model S, were celebrating a new partnership between their owners.

The reason for the race (and the partnership) 

Tesla and Qantas are collaborating on a project to bring awareness to sustainability initiatives and to push for the development of greener options in the travel industry. Of course Tesla is currently at the forefront of the effort to bring electric cars to the mainstream. Qantas has also made some efforts to create a more sustainable travel industry. The Australian flag carrier has been experimenting with biofuels for the past few years. 

Qantas executive Alan Milne, Head of Environment and Fuel, explained the new partnership between the airline and the car manufacturer: “We’re huge admirers of the way Tesla has transformed the electric car sector as a premium brand and we look forward to sharing our understanding and advance the work we started in 2012 on biofuels as an alternative to jet fuel. What better way to celebrate working together than having a unique race – car versus plane.” 

Both Telsa and Qantas customers can benefit

Both Tesla owners and Qantas frequent fliers are going to benefit from this partnership. Tesla owners will get a complimentary Qantas Club membership. Members of the airline’s frequent flier program, meanwhile, will be invited to exclusive events where they can see Tesla’s cars up close. Also, Tesla owners can use exclusive charging stations at major Australian airports. These have been installed by Qantas in their valet parking areas. 

The partnership will also work behind the scenes. Qantas will be Tesla’s official airline in Australia and will offset the carbon produced by the car-maker's’ corporate travels with its “Future Planet” program. 

Both companies could end up playing a huge role in creating a sustainable transportation infrastructure in the future. But who won the race?

The winner was...

The 737 won, but not by much. The Model S was impressive, however. It quickly reached a top speed of more than 150 miles per hour, but the plane overtook the car once it became airborne. 

More to this partnership than publicity

Tesla has moved into the Australian marketplace. Its cars are ahead of other electric vehicles in terms of factors like performance and range. However, the price tag is still too high for the mainstream car market. Qantas is one of the airlines that has had success with mixing biofuels and jet fuel. However, there is not a consistent enough supply of alternative fuels for the industry to start widespread use. 

So, while the car-plane race caught people’s attention, there could actually be something besides publicity to the Qantas-Tesla sustainability partnership. 


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