In the film Rain Man, the institutionalised, autistic savant Raymond Babbit (Dustin Hoffman) informs his brother Charlie Babbit (played by Tom Cruise) that he won’t fly on any airline except Qantas as it had never crashed. Qantas remains a profitable, full-service airline, with its safety record more or less intact. When Ralph Fiennes, the English actor, was alleged to have been involved in an intimate encounter with a flight attendant in an aircraft toilet, some dubbed the carrier – Quickies available near toilet ask staff.

In 2007 a consortium of private equity investors bid A$11.1 billion ($9.2 billion) for Qantas, around A$8.5 billion ($7 ...

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