Excited Illawarra plane spotters and John Travolta fans should not get their hopes up that the actor will fly to Albion Park aboard an old Qantas plane this November. As the expected date for the much-anticipated event approaches, the man behind the operation has raised doubts over whether it will happen due to high costs and red tape.
"We are still targeting something in November, but whether it happens or not, I just cannot give you an answer," former Qantas pilot John Dennis, who is heading up the Boeing 707 project said.
"At this stage, we suspect it will not happen. We are hopeful, we'd love all our approvals to come through, but it's one of those things that you don't want to get your hopes up until it happens."
Since 2017, excitement has been building over news that Travolta would be on board the vintage passenger jet he has agreed to donate to the Historical Aircraft Restoration Society (HARS) at the Illawarra airport. It was recently announced that the Hollywood star would touch down in Australia between November 2 and 10, to host a speaking engagement "An Evening With Travolta" in Sydney and Melbourne.
For months, HARS had spoken of a November target for the plane's arrival, so the Travolta tour announcement further fueled speculation that it would arrive in Albion Park between these dates. Mr Dennis said the main sticking point was government approvals from both the US and Australia, as well as mounting costs. "We just can't give any definite answer, because so much depends on maintenance issues and approvals," he said. "We have and had a plan to get this aircraft to Albion Park in November - but whether or not that's realistic, I just don't know." Despite the setback, Mr Dennis said he could guarantee that the plane would arrive in Australia at some point. "It's going to happen; that aircraft is going to arrive in Australia," he said. "When it does, John Travolta will be on it. I just can't give you a date."