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Air update.

Byline: NIGEL THOMPSON

Passengers on the world-first Dreamliner non-stop flight linking the UK and Australia will be flying on a plane called... Quokka (feel free to Google that!).

Aussie flag carrier Qantas has named the Boeing 787-9 on the 17-hour Heathrow-Perth route from March 25 after one of the cutest indigenous creatures found Down Under.

The quokka, a small marsupial related to the kangaroo and wallaby, is unique to Australia and largely found on Rottnest Island off the coast of Perth. It's said to be the happiest creature on Earth and they are even known to pose for a selfie with tourists.

Quokka was among the most popular suggestions in a national Australian poll to name the airline's fleet of eight new state-ofthe-art Dreamliners, with the first two to be delivered called Great Southern Land and Waltzing Matilda.

A Western Australia tourism spokesman said: "Our pristine Rottnest Island, just a 30-minute ferry ride from Perth, is the only place on the planet where people can mingle with the beloved marsupial. And now the name fittingly sits on the side of a Qantas Dreamliner bringing tourists to our great state.

"We can't wait to welcome new visitors to Perth, and I know the quokkas will be ready to star in any holiday snaps."

The new Quokka 787 is undergoing final preparations at the Boeing factory in Seattle, Washington state, and is expected to arrive in Oz in late January.

Besides making the 'kangaroo route' in one hop thanks to its fuel economy and 8,947-mile range, it will also fly between Australia and the USA. A Dreamliner called Skippy will join the fleet later this year.

Fares on the new route currently start at PS1,095 return. qantas.com

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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Geographic Code:8AUST
Date:Jan 20, 2018
Words:288
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