The Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras – referred to locally just as Mardi Gras – is the Sydney equivalent of the various gay pride events held around the world each year. These events take place to provide a voice for the LGBT community to fight for their rights and also to promote community visibility and inclusiveness.

Mardi Gras takes place from the middle of February to the start of March each year and Qantas is the official airline partner of the event. This year, Qantas have changed the colours of one of their aircraft to highlight their support.

Qantas Mardi Gras Colours

Airbus A330-200 registered VH-QPJ headed in to have its colours changed on 8 February and reemerged two days later having been struck by a rainbow. There are three changes to the livery. The Kangaroo is flying the gay pride flag, the airline name is now rainbow coloured instead of black and some text has been added to promote the Qantas partnership.


Perhaps due to the fact that Qantas aircraft fly to destinations that may not be gay friendly, the text refers to “Sydney Mardi Gras” rather than the full name. That being said, I might be reading something into nothing as the entire name of the event is quite long!

Is This The First Gay Aeroplane?

Many airlines celebrate the fact they are equal opportunity employers and with good reason as historically there have been more gay people in aviation than in other industries.

When same-sex marriage was legalised in the United States, American Airlines changed their social media image to incorporate the rainbow flag in a show of support, which is one example I can think of offhand of an airline providing overt support.


People have already started dubbing the A330 the “Gay 330” and it struck me that it is entirely possible this is the first aircraft in the world to be painted in gay pride colours.

Certainly to my memory it is the first one and I expect I would have noticed one in the past. No press release has been issued by Qantas at this time, so I am sure this fact will be confirmed in due course.

Overall Thoughts

I had no idea Qantas were doing this so I was pleasantly surprised when I saw a tweet with a couple of pictures of the new colours several days ago. The current CEO, Irish born Alan Joyce, is one of the few openly gay CEOs in the world, so perhaps there was some influence there.


Qantas has supported the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras for a number of years, having floats in the end of festival parade and may their support continue for many years to come. It certainly put a smile on my face!

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Featured image by Aviasian Passion (AP). Images by AP and Victor Pody Photography via popphotos.net